08_Nick Swinmurn

The Shoe Fits

2005 FAST 50 WINNER

Nick Swinmurn, 31

Founder and chairman
Zappos.com Inc.
Las Vegas, Nevada

Even during the dotcom frenzy, few thought you could sell shoes online. Nick Swinmurn, who started in 1999, has proven the skeptics wrong, and 2004 was a breakout year, with sales topping $175 million (up from $70 million in 2003). The key is service. Shipping is free and fast. Same with returns. Any customer issues are resolved in one call. Swinmurn's biggest challenge has been making sure that his new employees--he doubled his staff from 200 to 400 last year--learn the culture from the existing ones. A training team of Zappos vets helps newbies, particularly with the phones. "We've learned how to put people into a position where they can help the company as much as possible," Swinmurn says.

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