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Sonicport.com: Bringing Some Reality to Dot-Coms

A cool idea and nifty PowerPoint presentation was enough to start a dot-com business. After all, the market potential was huge. So why not invest millions of dollars in advertising and grab as much market share as possible? The end result would be profits, right?

Of course, the dot-com's have deflated and the venture funding environment has become brutal. Now, there is a new phrase: "path to profitability."

"In the new dot-com environment," says David Baeza, Chief Executive Officer of Sonicport.com , "what is needed is accountability and a strong focus on auditable results." Actually, Baeza has more than 10 years of direct marketing experience. Before co-founding Sonicport.com, he was the Chief Marketing Officer of CGI, a direct marketer of subscription services.

With Sonicport.com, Baeza has developed technologies and market strategies called verticalEvolution. This was deployed as a test case with a site called SeeYouOnline.net, an Internet Service Provider. In less than four months, the site was able to attract more than 30,000 recurring and paying subscribers. What's more, the cost per lead is $4.87 and the cost per order is $21.95.

verticalEvolution takes a comprehensive approach to a company's marketing, such as on strategic planning, Web site design and ASP/network services. There is also sophisticated tracking, profiling and scoring of consumers. Of course, with the information, Sonicport.com helps companies target these customers. Every dollar earned and spent is traced.

While the company recently raised $5.5 million, there will probably be another infusion. The firm hired the investment bank of Baird, Patrick & Co., to pursue funding opportunities and help with strategic opportunities, such as mergers and acquisitions.

By all accounts, the company has good timing. Its product line will be a great help to companies that need to develop cost-effective marketing strategies. True, Sonicport.com's financials are not large, with $228,000 in revenues for the past quarter and the losses were $2.5 million. But according to Baeza, the company is signing up new customers, which should help to accelerate revenues.