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Small Business Computing Magazine - December 1999

Poolandspa.com voted one of the Top 10 "Most Wired Businesses in North America"
by Chris Sandlund

Sometimes it's hard to be a Tech Magazine.   Among the tens of thousands of small businesses we research and write about each year, it's difficult to try to quantify their success and select which we feel are the best.

We did it anyway.  Sifting through the mountainous piles of press releases, plus spending hundreds of man hours on the phone and over email, we've complied a list of the 100 most wired small businesses, with the Top 10 profiled (in the magazine).  They found religion.  Maybe you will too.  Who knows, maybe next year we'll be writing about you.

The Top most tech-savvy (wired) small businesses in North America
( this is only a partial list of the 100 )

1- Jobs.com
2- Pets.com
3- Catalog.com
4- Point.com
5- Poolandspa.com
6- Rock.com
7- TheKnot.com
8- Grocer Online
9- igogolf.com
10- iPrint.com

POOLING HIS RESOURCES
In 1991, Dan Harrison closed his Long Island pool & spa supply retail outlet to concentrate on his growing mail order business.  Then, he heard about the Web.   "I put up a really crappy Web Site in 1994 on CompuServe," he says.   Harrison hasn't looked back since.

Daniel Harrison
Daniel Harrison, President, with Rubber Ducks

That initial attempt has matured into poolandspa.com - a sprawling site of more than 1000 pages detailing 50,000 products.  Harrison's web revenues was $600,000 in 1997, cracked $1 million last year, and had already surpassed $2 million at the halfway mark this year.

Harrison still only has six full-time employees, to which he adds another 30 during the summer to handle the pool servicing business that he continues to offer on Long Island.

A network of eight workstations keeps everyone humming - especially in winter when they revamp the site for the summer season.   Harrison reckons there are now hundreds of pool and spa sites scattered across the web, but he's managed to stay ahead of the curve by constantly investing in his site - and by finding a great partner.

One of the first things that Harrison did was to hook up with a friend (Dan Addiss) who was starting an Internet service provider company (Synapse Imaging, Ronkonkoma, New York).  He became the guinea pig for services that his friend would later sell to other clients - and reaped the benefit of being first on the market.  For instance, a shopping cart was pretty exotic for a web site four years ago.  Harrison knew that he needed one, so he paid $3000 for the shopping cart software and gave it to his friend at the ISP.  Thanks to a willingness to help his friend learn, Harrison's ISP bill runs a paltry $40 per month !

Feel like following his example ?   Harrison has two bits of advice.  First, you'll only be successful if you start a web site that focuses on a business that you already understand.  And second, save yourself expenses by getting friendly with a local ISP.  "There's a lot of people out there who will do a shopping cart for (under) $3000 !" he says.