- The Washington Times - Monday, February 14, 2000

Founder accepts risks in varied business ventures

Farid N. Ghadry has dabbled as an entrepreneur, from exporting gold mined from old Russian computers to creating a home shopping channel in the Middle East.

Now he is starting anew in the fertile fields of electronic commerce in the United States.

"I take a tremendous amount of risk and I am fascinated by the unusual. The conventional bores me to death," he said.

Rockville-based Bizee.com, Mr. Ghadry's latest venture, is a global Internet portal for business-to-business communication and e-commerce. The service helps businesses conduct e-commerce and tailors Web portals to the needs and interests of individual employees.

"We really power employees," Mr. Ghadry said.

"We aggregate information and deliver it so you don't have to go out and fish all over Web sites," he said.

Using software he developed, called SmartPortals.objects, the portals help companies with day-to-day business tasks like on-line billing and Internet conference calls.

"The SmartPortal is a solution that a lot of companies have been looking for," Mr. Ghadry said. "We cut down on cost and we cut down on time."

The portals, which start at $50,000, allow for secure private network e-mail, similar to networks used by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and other federal agencies. Bizee.com also includes bulletin board features for forum discussions, on-line auctions, classified advertising and a secure Internet chat arena.

A chief executive, for example, might want his personal portal to include news stories and press releases about the company's competition, a live stock portfolio updated every few minutes, or an option for his daily conference call. Bizee.com will even send an e-mail to the executive with transcribed notes from the meeting.

A human resources manager, on the other hand, might want information about new benefits or employee information.

Mr. Ghadry started the company in July 1999 with just nine employees and an initial investment of about $1 million. But he hopes to earn $2 million in revenue by the end of this year.

Mr. Ghadry, always on the lookout for new ventures, said he noticed a void in modern businesses that he could fill with Bizee.com. Within the massive market for business-to-business commerce, he sees a solid niche in Web portals.

Though he is targeting companies, Mr. Ghadry thinks Bizee.com eventually will be seen by hundreds of thousands of individual Internet users who conduct business with his clients.

His prospective customers are high-profile consulting companies and software integrators.

"We just ally ourselves with companies that have access," he explained.

Part of Bizee.com's mission is to help companies' headquarters connect with their multiple offices to get everyone on the "same sheet of music," he said.

Mr. Ghadry said the success of most Internet companies these days is based on ignorance and a blind frenzy of investors hoping to cash in on the next big company.

"It's like throwing darts," he said. "But we are focused and we are not a fad."

Bizee.com is just the latest ina string of eclectic business ventures on Mr. Ghadry's resume. He concedes that most of his earlier ventures were failures, but he chalks them up as learning experiences.

"You have to fail to really succeed," Mr. Ghadry said. "That failure is part of the package of an entrepreneur."

He created International TechGroup in 1983, a company that develops and installs laser-optic filing systems into aircraft allowing them to travel faster and with less fuel.

Then, he sold TechGroup in 1989 to start another venture extracting gold from old Russian computers for export to the United States. That venture ended when the Russian government, claiming he did not have a business license, forced him to leave.

He returned to the United States to start yet another venture, helping QVC, "The Shopping Network" deliver home shopping to the Middle East.

Mr. Ghadry also ran, and eventually sold, a coffee company and a telecommunications provider.

But he insists that Bizee.com will be a different story.



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