Tomorrow’s executives demonstrate how they fuel entrepreneurial drive while in school
Andrew Westfall and Ben Chiappetta, both 23, were juniors in high school when they launched their Internet hosting business Plutomic Hosting. Westfall will graduate in December with a double major in computer information systems and entrepreneurship, as “I knew I wanted to run a business.” He runs Plutomic virtually with Chiappetta, a Thomas Edison State College student; June 26 will mark six years they’ve been juggling academic and business careers.
“It has been a roller coaster,” Westfall said. “We started out as just a small reseller for a large Web hosting provider. But we grew, through acquisitions of other companies and just general marketing and getting the word out. Now, we have fully owned equipment racks, switching hardware and servers.”
Plutomic has 130 customers. “Some are local businesses, and some are in Australia, Florida, the United Kingdom, India and Japan,” Westfall said, describing Plutomic as “a full-service managed hosting company” with its servers at a data center in Philadelphia.
He said the economy “definitely had a drastic effect” on revenue, “but in the last year or so, we have seen a recovery.” Clients include a custom draperies business and an Oregon company that provides online classes for students who are home schooled.
Being a student entrepreneur has required a business-first approach, Westfall said. Customers expect 24/7 performance; he and Chiappetta will do technical maintenance at 2 or 3 in the morning. But running his own business “gives me the flexibility to do things the way I need to do them.”
“We originally started the business with the intention of making it a full-time livelihood,” he said. “We both grew up with entrepreneurs in our families. We both wanted to do something on our terms, and bring it to fruition and make a livelihood and live comfortably. That was our goal in high school.”