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How One Employee Became An Entrepreneur

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                 SoHo NEWS & TIPS
Helping You Make the Most of Your Small Office/Home Office

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Let's get right to today's issue. I have featured some 
important business news as well as a great story about an 
employee who became a successful entrepreneur. Enjoy! 


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- Yahoo's stock tumbles 12% in after-hours trading...

- Tyco's stock dumps 10%, as the company announces 
  it will separate into three public companies...

- Three big executive VPs leave Juniper at the same 

- Nikon announces it will cease production of nearly 
  all of its film cameras...

- Truck series champion Ultra Motorsports closes its 

- Rumor has it Tenebril laid of 40% of its staff...

- Google said that it would spend up to $1.24 billion 
  to buy dMarc Broadcasting...

- AstraZeneca PLC has lost patent protection in the US 
  over its fourth-biggest selling drug Toprol XL...

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United States?


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How One Employee Became an Entrepreneur 

THE PROBLEM: Stitching together a new market.

In 1980, Patrick Martucci, just out of high school, 
left his hometown of Cleveland with $300, pointing 
his Trans Am toward Dallas. He landed a $6-an-hour 
job at a company that was launching an odd, new 
product at the time -- "voice forward mail."

When he tried to explain voice mail to his grand-
mother, she thought he was a postal worker. Others, 
however, caught on. He was soon in the sales 
department, where he was a natural. "I had the 
opportunity to watch a product go out the door and 
gain world-wide acceptance," he says.

He leapfrogged to increasingly challenging jobs 
across the telecom industry, setting up 
distribution channels, running sales departments. 
A stark opportunity stared him in the face when he 
worked at a company that provided maintenance on 
Rolm phone equipment. Mr. Martucci was thrilled to 
pitch a sale to J.C. Penney, which, after a trial, 
offered him the maintenance contract for the entire 
retail chain's phone service. 

But his company could handle only Rolm equipment 
in specific geographic areas, not the full sprawl 
of a retailer with a mishmash of phone systems. Mr. 
Martucci says he saw what could have been "a $10 
million contract go to $1.5 million, and that 
bugged me from that day forward."

THE SOLUTION: From Chicago, he launched United 
Asset Coverage, which could have struck that deal. 
It would informally stitch together a network to 
fix anyone's office equipment -- no matter the 
brand, and no matter the place, a sort of managed-
care approach to the frustrating world of office-
machine maintenance.

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Mr. Martucci unveiled the concept to a small 
venture fund, where he worked at the time. "It's a 
$36 billion marketplace, and I'm familiar with it," 
he told his partners. They jumped in, investing a 
total of "a couple million" dollars, he says.

He called the best salespeople he knew from 
previous jobs and hired 17. They told potential 
customers that UAC would handle all the maintenance 
chores for less if they paid upfront. Just like 
explaining voice mail to grandma, the new business 
model, part insurance, part repair clearinghouse, 
wasn't an easy sell. "There is nothing more boring 
than telephone maintenance," Mr. Martucci admits.

It took six long months in 1997 for the company to 
secure its first customer: A TGI Friday's in St. 
Louis signed up for UAC to maintain its lone copier. 
By 2001, UAC installed a call center in Chicago so 
that anyone could call and order service. Establish-
ing a network of service providers proved easier. 
Once they saw that UAC provided steady revenue, 
acting as a sort of agent for them, many agreed to 
discounts on their services to be part of the net-

Though new competitors are sprouting up, today UAC 
is the largest telecom-maintenance company in the 
world. The closely held firm doesn't disclose 
revenue, but earnings reached $40 million this year.

THE LESSON: When you're not selling what your 
customer needs, an opportunity to innovate is at 


At a first stab at delegation, you might consider
using an outside consultant who is a professional
in the area needed. You free up your time while
still ensuring a high-quality output.

So what did you think about this issue? Drop me a 
line and let me know at mandi@gophercentral.com 

Archive link:
GopherCentral Archives

End of SoHo News & Tips  
Copyright 2006 PENN L.L.C.   All rights reserved. 

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