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Technology & Innovation

A Textbook Entrepreneur

Family and friends were at first freaked out by Alan Martin’s idea of a text book rental service. “But it didn’t take long before we realized something pretty big was happening.”

What’s the Latest Development?

Alan Martin and some fellow dreamers started filling out credit-card applications with zero-interest-for-one-year promotions. “Between them, they racked up about $250,000 in debt.” Sounds like this could be a profile of a criminal but it’s an interesting example of innovation and luck—and some unconventional seed financing—and how Martin achieved his dream of providing affordable textbooks.

What’s the Big Idea?

“When it comes to innovations, there is a tight-rope-thin line between genius and fool. Martin had stepped out on it at a scary time. ‘You only sound smart if it worked out,’ he concedes.” “Not having a seasoned CEO or management team seems to have helped. ‘I think our lack of knowledge…caused us to make moves that somebody more experienced just wouldn’t have made,’ he said. …Such as maxing out credit cards, as they did in the beginning. ‘I definitely wouldn’t recommend it for most people,” Martin said, “but in our case it did the trick.'”


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