If the coin of the Internet realm is represented by visitor numbers, then MyComputer.com is literally printing money.
The startup, based in Provo, Utah, began as an extracurricular activity by Brigham Young University students Josh James and John Pestana. Both men — CEO and president respectively — were still in school when they started a Web site construction business. Soon enough, they determined there was no accurate tool-at least, not one they liked-to track these all-important statistics. So they phased out the design clients, and sought to develop a set of tools that no Web page should be without, beginning with an accurate way to quantify the visitors on a particular site.
Two years after launching that tracking facility, called SuperStats, MyComputer.com has evolved into a service that provides a suite of similar tools. Options include counters, polling, merchant linking, and the ability to manage downloads. They are all offered as a service; for instance, the SuperStats module costs $20 a month.
James said the company now has about 300,000 clients, although not all of them are paying $20 a month. Some services cost more, but many others are free. The majority of the clients are small businesses although several larger Web sites take advantage of the service.
“You’d be surprised,” he said. “A lot of these larger pages have no accurate way to track visitors.” (The program installs itself on each page and returns the numbers back to MyComputer.com’s secure server.)
MyComputer.com’s direct competition is Web Site Garage, a Netscape partner that uses an automotive motif to offer many of the same services.
The company began with a $250,000 investment from the two partners along with $1.15 million from private sources. After turning down several opportunities, the company is just finishing the process of raising a $2 million round of capital from Geocapital Partners in Fort Lee, N.J.
Satya Patel, an associate with GeoCapital said the company fits a need: “The strength of their product lies in its breadth and its ease of use,” he said. “Adding additional features, such as community-oriented chat, discussion groups or message boards, will make the offering more complete and a more valuable resource for webmasters as they will be able to interact with others dealing with the same issues or problems.”
The company had no trouble getting investors. Rather, as James said, it turned down five opportunities. It declined to be the first Internet venture for one firm, while others were just poor fits.
“They were interested in imposing restrictions and not sharing the benefits,” he explains.
Even worse were the firms who were not forthcoming about their intentions. Here, James sounds almost quaint, and was surprised when investors agreed to certain terms and then attempted to change them right before signing on the dotted line. They walked out. “If someone doesn’t shoot straight, I don’t want them on my board,” he said, surprised that someone would want to modify a handshake deal.
James and Pestana are just a few credits shy of graduation, with no plans to return.
“A degree is a means to an end. We are now in the ‘end’ so it doesn’t seem worthwhile now.” James said.
James and Pestana also share an artistic streak; Pestana is a musician, while James has acted in several sitcoms and commercials (his sole Internet Movie Data Base entry is “Wish Upon A Star,” a 1996 straight-to-video movie starring Bride of Chucky actress Katherine Heigl).
Perhaps they’ll go back to school when they need a vacation. At any rate, James characterizes the interrupted academic career with aplomb: “The entrepreneurship program at BYU measures its success by how many students don’t graduate. Bu if we had dropped out of Stanford instead of BYU, we’d be billionaires by now.”
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