BYU students make debut on Internet

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    By CARRIE REINFURT

    Editor’s note: This is the beginning of a three-part series on BYU students’ success with the growth of the Internet.

    Feb. 20 was the first day smartstocks.com hit the Internet. In less than two months after the start, the site has grown to 1,650 registered users in 32 different countries.

    Greg Peterson, founder of smartstocks.com, originally thought of the idea while working with individual Internet accounts. Peterson was working in pest control with Dave Christensen when they started investing online.

    They decided they would like to find other students at BYU who were interested in discussing investments. They founded the BYU Investment Club.

    Peterson wanted a forum where the members could go to ask questions and learn how to invest in the stock market.

    In November, Peterson bought the domain name smartstocks.com and began to talk to programmers. Ross Robinson and Matt Probst were brought in to help with the site and management of the database.

    Dan Hersam was brought in to make the online investment game and the design of the site.

    “We have 500,000 impressions per month,” said Peterson.

    A site cannot begin to make money until they have at least 1/2 million impressions a month. Impressions are the number of times an advertiser’s banner will show up on the screen, said Steve Jenkins, former BYU student turned multimillionaire after selling a Web site.

    Smartstocks.com has grown to involve many facets of online investing, said Christensen.

    “Smartstocks.com is an online investment community where people can go to do research, track portfolios, check other investers ideas and look up quotes,” said Peterson.

    Smartstocks.com is now home to a virtual store. Amazon.com and beyond.com products are available, and tax and quicken software can also be purchased. Companies in San Diego and Salt Lake City are working with smartstocks.com, said Peterson.

    The site is managed out of Probst apartment.

    “You would be surprised the amount of equipment someone can have in their apartment,” said Robinson, 23, a junior from California majoring in electrical engineering.

    Smartstocks.com started on a DSL line, which is 40 to 50 times faster than a 28 modem. Within the first month the site received so many hits the phone company would shut off the connection for several hours, said Peterson.

    Smartstocks.com has now moved up to a dual-TI connection which is over 300 times as fast as a 28 modem.

    Smartstocks.com is in the process of incorporating. They are just now beginning a marketing campaign, said Christensen, 24, a senior from Pocatello, Idaho, majoring in computer science.

    “All the growth of smartstocks.com has been through word of mouth,” Probst said.

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