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Magic in the Making: Irving Company Bolts from Debt to Dot-com Success

IRVING, Texas -- In 1996, three years after forming a small software company out of a one-bedroom apartment, entrepreneur Najeeullah Khan was struggling to make ends meet. He spent long hours, working at a non-stop pace, sending mass mail-outs, making brochures, writing press releases and developing marketing strategies to get the company off the ground.

The company did not generate revenue from 1992-1994. Khan’s savings were depleted, his credit cards were maxed out, and he didn’t even have enough money to pay his technical support specialist.

This year, however, Khan’s computer resale web site, Baber.com, is expected to generate $1 million in revenue, four years after the struggles in early 1996. The web site, which supplies consumers with rare, obsolete and hard-to-find computer products, grew by 300 percent during its first year and has grown at least by 30 percent ever since its inception. By catering to a previously untapped market for computer sales, Baber.com maintains a profit margin far above the normal 4-6 percent for the industry.

After forming his first high tech. business in 1992, a software company called Baber Information Services, Khan worked without revenue as he sold software and awaited the release date of software that he designed. In 1995, Khan made $85,000 through software sells, but he discontinued them in 1996 to devote attention to the development of an Internet directory for software companies called Baber’s Directory for Computer Products and Services. Khan could not convince many software companies to advertise on his Internet directory, and his software was plagued by constant delays.

Khan, who had moved into a cramped one-room office and hired a tech support specialist in by this time, conducted research on popular hardware products and decided to buy and post computer memory and a modem from a vendor on Baber’s Global Directory of Computer Products and Services. It wasn’t long before Khan received a call from some one who wanted to purchase the hardware. More calls followed and Khan soon discovered the great demand for hard ware products.

During the first month of operation, Baber.com sold $30,000 worth of hardware products and by the end of 1996, the company’s annual revenue was $300,000.

Today, Baber.com sells 5,000 parts and receives over 200 e-mails and more than 100 telephone calls a day. Visits to the Baber.com are astounding. The company receives 1 million web hits and a 250,000 page impressions a month.

The key to Khan’s success is that he remained faithful, knowing that sound business principles and innovation would guide him to the right business model and market. "When you are committed to your goals the amount of debt you have doesn’t seem to matter," Khan said.

"We considered it an investment in our goals and we kept doing it."

Another integral part of Khan’s success was his ability to recognize and define the consumers who needed Baber.com’s services. Khan now offers the same advice to those who want to enter the world of e-commerce. "Identify your customer. Everyone cannot be your customer so find out who it is and then do your best to serve that customer. Do not try to make everyone a customer; just concentrate on those that are a good fit for your services."

By identifying those needing his services, Khan has been able to anticipate customer demands and follow the often-flexible reseller market. "When you listen to your customers and hear what they saying and do what they are doing, your business will keep growing, no matter what you are selling: Internet or no Internet," Khan said.

"We listen to our customer. We try to anticipate his or her requirements and we build and add to our web site accordingly.

"We try to be flexible and diligent for our customer and it has kept us growing."

In an age where many business people enter e-commerce expecting to find instantaneous success, Khan also attributes the success of Baber.com to sound business practices and a service oriented attitude directed at consumers. "We are using technology with pure business accume," Khan said.

"You just can’t have technology and do nothing with it or hope that technology will do it for you.

"Technology only provides you with a medium."

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