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 July 1, 1999

eProve helps firms to know Net customer

BROOMFIELD — The birth and consequent explosion of the Internet has highlighted business in the late 90s. Operations ranging from mom and pop shops to Fortune 100 conglomerates are scrambling to create a Web presence.

Despite the hoopla, the Internet is still in its infancy. Companies learn about business on the Net via trial and error. Many simply don’t have the in-house expertise to address issues ranging from security to online marketing.

Hoping to capitalize on such firms is eProve. Created last January with the aid of Sequel Venture Partners, Broomfield-based eProve will help clients streamline their Web sites.

“We’re a Net solutions provider,” says Chief Executive Officer John Hickey. “We utilize clients’ Web sites to understand their customers’ behavior. For example, it’s easy to track customer behavior based on what they do while visiting a site. Where do they go? What actions do they take? Which pages do they exit from?”

eProve specializes on testing the efficiency of clients’ sites. Over a short period of time, eProve creates variables of the original site. The site’s layout might be overhauled, navigation made easier or the price of a product or service adjusted. Therefore, customer behavior can be easily tracked and compared with behavior on different formulas.

If a client makes sunglasses that are sold over the Net, for example, eProve is able to surmise the most effective way to move that product. A cleaner, more navigable site might increase sales by 15 percent.

Says Hickey: “Through the data we collect, we’re able to see which pages grab and keep a customer and which pages a customer exits from. One reoccurring problem we’ve seen with companies is that many don’t provide information to the customer regarding whether the product is in stock. Consumers like to be informed.

“The Internet has experienced such a boom that companies trying to sell products simply lack experience in the area. A company might be great at using distributors and taking advantage of traditional marketing approaches. But with the Net they’re suddenly the direct seller.”

eProve charges anywhere from $15,000 to $200,000 to test and overhaul a site. Its competitors are firms like IBM, Arthur Anderson and USWeb. However, such conglomerates typically target Fortune 500 companies.

“We’re marketing ourselves to mid-cap companies,” Hickey says. “Firms in the range of $100 million in sales. Right now we’re small, with only three employees. But there’s vast potential for us to grow. Our business plan calls on us doing $70 million in revenues by 2001 and having more than 400 employees. eProve might have an IPO a year or so later. There’s also a strong chance that at some point the company will be acquired.”

Hickey says one of the greatest challenges facing eProve will be finding top-notch employees with the unemployment rate in the Front Range being so low. He plans to overcome this obstacle by having a relaxed atmosphere at work, one conducive to family events and community service.

Rick Patch, a partner at Sequel Venture Partners, says his firm invested in eProve primarily because of its potential to help make online consumers happy.

“The Internet is all about bringing customers together with sellers,” he says. “eProve will improve that process. It will help clients utilize electronic commerce to expand their operations. And eProve will ensure that transactions between its clients and their customers are as pleasant as possible.”

Patch is reluctant to reveal how much Sequel invested in eProve, saying only that the amount of money placed into the start-up was sufficient to attract an initial management team, polish a marketing plan and attract some early customers. Once the business is churning, eProve will likely need another $5 million to $10 million to expand.

“Colorado is one of the most prolific entrepreneurial environments in the country,” Patch says. “It’s becoming an increasing haven for start-ups like eProve. I think eProve has a very good chance at success, and that it’s a company we’ll hear a lot about in the future.”

BROOMFIELD — The birth and consequent explosion of the Internet has highlighted business in the late 90s. Operations ranging from mom and pop shops to Fortune 100 conglomerates are scrambling to create a Web presence.

Despite the hoopla, the Internet is still in its infancy. Companies learn about business on the Net via trial and error. Many simply don’t have the in-house expertise to address issues ranging from security to online marketing.

Hoping to capitalize on such firms is eProve. Created last January with the aid of Sequel Venture Partners, Broomfield-based…

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