When Michael Mottner got to the final round of interviews for that dream analyst job with Goldman Sachs, the interviewer took a look at his CV and noticed Mottner had claimed that in 2001 as a sophomore at Dartmouth he had founded and successfully managed a company called Wpromote. “In response to my bluff’, Mottner recalls, ‘he asked me, why would I want to work for Goldman Sachs, if my company was so successful.’ For Mottner, 29, this was the moment of truth. ‘I got up’, he says, ‘and I said, you know, you are right! This is not the job for me!’

After recovering from the shock, Mottner started building Wpromote, a SEO company that at the time was offering a cheap platform for getting sites onto the browsers. That was 2004, Google was just gathering pace but Mottner had a premonition about its future dominance. ‘I had much success with the pay-per-click services of Google’, he says, ‘They carried a lot of traffic, so I came to the conclusion that there was a market out there for managing and consulting other people’s campaigns.’

That’s precisely what Wpromote started doing: helping others with their PPC campaigns, choosing keywords and pricing. Mottner and his team learned much about what helps websites get a high Google rating and so Wpromote began offering SEO services.

The strategy paid off and Wpromote revenue rose from $500 000 in 2004 to $2.8 million in 2005 and $6.2 million in 2007. Even with the recent crisis looming Wpromote is charging forward.

Today the El Segundo, California-based company has 62 employees and offers PPC, SEO, web development and social networks advertising to 2300 satisfied customers, HP among them. Revenues for 2009 were $8.5 million and for 2010 are expected to reach $12 million.

Mottner tries to manage the company as though he will own it forever. ‘I believe setting up companies only to sell them is a dangerous thing’, he admits.

by Joel Holland for Entrepreneur Magazine