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Winner: Young Entrepreneurs Featured

10:08am EDT July 22, 2002
Launched in 1994 as only the second Internet service provider in the Cleveland area, ExchangeNet grew on the strength of then-14-year-old Michael's technical knowledge and his older brother's business acumen.

Dan, now 29, staked his younger brother $5,000 to begin the business. In addition to overseeing the company while Michael attends college at John Carroll University, Dan works full time as a securities broker. Dan's wife, Kate, meanwhile, runs the day-to-day operation.

"We're still growing," Dan says, by as much as about 50 percent a year, "but we're not growing exponentially like we did the first two years." On the other hand, the industry has reached some modest stability. "There was some concern 18 months ago about cable [dominating the business], but it seems they're just not coming to the forefront. I think now, it's just going to be a matter of building the business."

The company has more than 20 employees in its downtown Cleveland headquarters, more than 8,000 customers, and it offers as many as 60 services. More than 80 percent of new customers come via referrals from other customers.