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Going from portals to ports.

A provider of T1 lines, DSL services, and dedicated servers, Los Angeles-based T1DSL sees more in the future than mere broadband. Through its next enterprise, ePORTe, it wants to be atop the import/export world as well. Founder John Zahabian talks about connectivity, expanded footprints, and keeping an eye on the ports of the world.

How did you get interested in this field?

Through my father, who was responsible for 75 percent of all national import duties. I was always curious about his businesses and I’d follow him to meetings, factories, and ports. I found that import/export still remains as fragmented as it was in ancient times. I realized that information is still the most premium commodity, so I decided to focus on that early.

What’s the focus of T1DSL?

We offer dedicated connectivity and servers to small- to medium-size enterprises nationwide and by 2004, internationally. Dedicated connectivity and servers are the bricks and mortars of businesses that are increasingly seeking a presence on the Net.

Ninety-nine percent of all businesses are small- to medium-size enterprises, and providing data products to these companies is a challenge, because it’s a market that’s oversaturated yet underserved.

What can you share with us about your T1DSL marketing?

T1DSL is the forerunner of ePORTe, the Internet’s premier B2B mega-portal. We are applying ePORTe’s marketing to catapult T1DSL into the market. T1DSL has inked several master level contracts with broadband providers enabling us to offer an expanded footprint.

We’ll be covering all the NFL cities, plus 30 other major U.S. cities, with over 94 metro areas and 60 percent of areas that are far from COs. In all, that’s over half a million businesses and residences that are currently being served by us, making T1DSL the largest national partnership for T1 and DSL coverage in the United States.

How do you see T1DSL and ePORTe growing from here?

Our projections give us the sense that T1DSL could create enough critical mass to enable us to fund ePORTe out of pocket. T1DSL is also a logical and practical platform that will be the bedrock for ePORTe’s infrastructure and superstructure.

Today, small to medium enterprises are jostling for better connectivity, servers, and presence. Soon, they’ll need interconnectivity to be able to trade in a multitude of electronic markets, like people today who auction personal goods on several auction sites. Many businesses presently have sites but they still need to find and trade with each other. ePORTe will provide the first standard and simple B2B megaportal, where all businesses are listed and can find all other businesses, products and inventories.

What kinds of challenges have you found in getting ePORTe running?

Board members at the largest VC firm, CMGI, chose our business plan out of 4,000 monthly entrants, and actually argued that we needed more capital than we had proposed.

But then the Internet bubble burst and CMGI’s stocks fell about 98 percent, so they couldn’t give us the first round of financing. They asked us to construct a basic site that proved profitable pre-VC. The problem was that even a simple site with such a vast, historic vision takes millions and would be imprudent to attempt without proper start-up and mid-way financing.

What makes ePORTe such a large-scale vision to you?

ePORTe is essentially the planet’s inventory intelligence. It’s a B2B megaportal, one site that lists all of the world’s businesses and products and inventories comprehensively. We tell business people who has what, where, and in which port, warehouse or facility right now.

This is invaluable business intelligence. It provides the information that all major ports, free trade zones, consulates, the Department of Commerce, even the CIA and FBI. And certainly businesses need this kind of information daily.

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