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Batteries not included Featured

9:44am EDT July 22, 2002

In a spacious hardwood-floored studio office along Euclid Avenue stacked high with film equipment and computers, Greg Petusky and Johnny Wu spent the last 18 months building their electronic media company from the ground up.

They became business partners in 1998, with hopes of opening a photography business. When it promptly flopped, they decided to give the media business a try, tapping into Petusky’s love of filmmaking and Wu’s knowledge of computers.

Since then, Media Design Imaging has gone the low-key, independent route. The pair recently completed an action film called “Twisted,” a music video that is being delivered to homes across the nation on Media One’s Road Runner high-speed cable modem and a television commercial for an underdog Internet company.

Given MDI’s independent spirit, it is ironic the company is garnering attention from a new project inspired by corporate giants such as Microsoft and Budweiser — digital business cards. The specially cut, three-inch compact discs play in any personal computer with a CD-ROM drive and can be packed with up to 50 megabytes of information — the equivalent of 9,000 simple pages of text or a dozen Web pages.

Cleveland-based Paratus Inc. — an Internet technology and marketing services firm — went to MDI last year with an offer to partner on a project for Washington, D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams, asking the small firm to help develop the content for the discs.

“We finished it in a week, turned it in and they loved it and want to do more,” says Wu. “So, slowly from there, we got more business. It’s a very cool concept.”

The work has been a benefit for MDI, which can now sink profits from the digital business cards back into its filmmaking ventures, as well as generate awareness about the company.

“We don’t just want to concentrate on one target,” says Wu, “But, at the same time, we don’t mind outsourcing ourselves to do some work and market ourselves.”

So, while its main focus remains films, it appears MDI has more digital business card work heading its way, if the rising buzz about the new technology is any indication. Paratus CEO Frank Sulka says he is has already heard from several local companies considering an investment in digital business cards, now that it has become a cost-effective marketing strategy.

As with traditional business cards, the more you buy, the better the price. The design and burning of 1,000 digital business costs about $3,000, while an order of 10,000 comes in around $1 each.

How to reach: MDI, (216) 623-0822; Paratus, (440) 796-8536

Jim Vickers (jvickers@sbnnet.com) is an associate editor at SBN.