After working as marketing representative for a number of exporters, a job involving a great deal of travel, Boris Acosta wanted to settle down in one place.
Two years ago, the longtime San Diego resident formed World Exports, a Web site that provides information about exporting firms in 65 different industries.
Besides offering information about the firms to potential customers, the site (www.world-exports.net) has links to the companies’ sites and provides automatic translation of the data in two dozen languages.
Acosta is one of two San Diegans recently selected as 12 finalists in the Visa Start-Up 2000, a national small-business incubation program.
Kolar Mahesh and a team of three other SDSU students who founded Jamoon, Inc., a Web site providing rental goods and services, is the other local finalist in the competition.
The two teams were selected from a field of more than 500 entries, then pared down to 24 semifinalists, and finally down to 12 after an extensive review by a panel of judges, said Mike Souza, vice president of Visa USA’s business products and services.
Acosta, 43, said Visa won’t name the contest’s three winners until May 16, but already he’s benefited from entering the contest.
As part of the program, the 12 finalists were flown to Kansas City where each of the teams received help in refining their business plans and in sharpening their presentations from executives of the Kaufmann Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership.
“They helped me on some of the details of my business plan, how to organize it, and how to make it more appealing to investors,” Acosta said. “It’s a great opportunity for me.”
Acosta said his initial investment in his enterprise was about $10,000, not counting the many hours he personally invested in helping launch the site. Since it’s been up, the site has turned a profit. He and his wife, Lucia Checchi, are the company’s only full-time employees.
If he makes the final cut and is selected as one of three winners, Acosta said he intends to improve the site and make it more powerful.
The prizes each will receive should go a long way toward that goal. Each winner gets $25,000 in funding from Visa; up to $10,000 in products and services from each of the contest’s five sponsors; and free counseling and educational resources provided by experts at the Kaufman Center.