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For Jon Housman’s 33rd birthday late last month, his mother gave him a symbolic present: a framed copy of a letter he wrote at age 7 that read, “Dear Tooth Fairy, I lost my tooth. Can I have some money?” The gift resonated with Housman — the CEO and co-founder of Jungle Interactive, which publishes the magazines and Web sites MBA Jungle and JDJungle [editor's note: JDJungle is an online partner of law.com] — because he got his wish earlier this year: In April, his New York City-based company received $9.5 million in funding, led by Kingdon Capital, Korn Ferry International and Ridgewood Capital. The 15-month-old Jungle Interactive is setting its sights on the previously untapped demographic of information-hungry students attending business or law school, providing content on topics ranging from “power dining” techniques to interviews with top executives and attorneys. The company’s business plan includes drawing revenue from magazine and Web advertising, event promotions and licensing a Web service designed to help recruiters find qualified applicants. After nearly doubling its staff since January, the company turned its first profit with its May issue of MBA Jungle, having upped its circulation numbers by distributing free copies of the magazine to students on business school campuses across the country. Housman, who’s worked as a merchant banker, strategy consultant and co-owner of a gourmet food company, attributes the venture’s success to the countless hours he and his co-founders, Jonathan McBride and Sean McDuffy, spent scrutinizing and rewriting their business plan every weekend and evening for nearly four months. He also credits their refusal to get caught up in the hype surrounding new ventures. “We came from the food business,” Housman says. “We bought tomatoes, cooked them, and we sold them for more. We put together this business plan using the same strategy, trying to be oblivious to the prevailing sentiment at the time.” Housman, McBride and McDuffy also agreed only to pitch their plan to venture capitalists who would agree to meet with them in person. They refused to send their plan by e-mail, and would fax an executive summary only after an in-person meeting was scheduled. “If they won’t meet with you, it’s not worth it,” Housman says. “I’ve been in people’s offices where they have stacks and stacks of business plans that will never see the light of day.” Security wasn’t the only reason for insisting on in-person meetings, Housman says: “Body language and facial expressions are indicative of someone’s commitment.” A need for face time also dictates why, after working a 60-hour week as the company’s CEO, Housman teaches a media strategy class at his alma mater, New York University’s Stern School of Business. Housman says he loves teaching, but is too caught up in his company at the moment to consider doing it full time: “There was no way I could give up the business side, as I really want to create something meaningful.” To be close to the company’s operations and 50-person staff, Housman and his girlfriend live in his hometown of Manhattan near his father, a merchant banker; his mother, a sculptor; and his brother, a screenwriter who lives in Brooklyn. At the moment, Jungle Interactive doesn’t offer its employees any of the excessive perks of the late 1990s, such as catered gourmet meals or expensive launch parties. But Housman notes that his employees don’t need those perks to get the job done, and says his company’s greatest asset is its team atmosphere. “There are very few cowboys out there, and I have no illusions about what one person can do,” he says. “You really need a team to be successful.” Copyright � 2001 The Industry Standard

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