They started in a two-bedroom apartment in Woodland Hills, Calif., making phone calls, writing computer code, and working hard to convince their neighbors that they were doing nothing illegal. To attract customers, Elan Susser and Jon V. Ferrara decided they needed to piggyback onto someone else's selling shoulders.

Their product -- workgroup software designed to help companies share customer information among employees who deal with the same customer -- needed the endorsement of a big network user. "I started cold-calling Novell resellers," Ferrara says. "I figured that if I could get a copy into their hands, they would use it, and if they used it, they'd recommend it."

Their shoestring marketing plan turned GoldMine Software into a real player, with 105 employees and revenues of more than $20 million. And from the apartment with two phone lines and a postcard of the beach on the refrigerator, the company has moved to offices overlooking the same beach, near Malibu.

Copyright 1998 G+J USA Publishing

Published on: Jan 1, 1998