Who Steve O'Brien, 36, cofounder and co-CEO of NextJet Inc. Launched in 1999 and based in Dallas, NextJet offers same-day, door-to-door package delivery throughout the United States.
The Bet Shipping by NextJet isn't cheap: Sending a 50-pound package from New York to Los Angeles costs about $225. But O'Brien believes that companies will gladly pay top dollar for same-day delivery. "More than ever now, time is money," he says.
At NextJet's Web site (www.nextjet.com), customers enter data about a shipment, and within seconds, they receive a list of delivery options. Once a shipment is scheduled and a package is picked up, NextJet's "proactive notification" technology kicks in, providing regular phone or email updates on the status of the package.
Hedging the Bet Consumer-oriented same-day services, such as Kozmo.com, have struggled of late. But NextJet is focusing on business customers — which puts it in a different arena: The manager of a factory that sits idle for lack of a crucial part has a powerful incentive to get that part as quickly as possible. NextJet is also partnering with B2B marketplaces and other e-commerce sites, which will offer the service as a delivery option to their customers.
The Odds NextJet is competing in a crowded, fragmented market, but its technology and its single-minded focus on building a national same-day brand give it a shot at breaking away from the pack. And if FedEx and other overnight companies jump into the same-day fray? "If the bigger players want to come into the market, we say, 'Bring it on,' " says O'Brien. "All they'll do is create more awareness and help us build the market."
Stephen Hochbrunn (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a writer in Brooklyn, New York. Contact Steve O'Brien by email (email@example.com).
A version of this article appeared in the February 2001 issue of Fast Company magazine.