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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Virtual Reality

In the Summer of 1996, three humble guys from Fargo, North
Dakota, one humble guy from Minneapolis, Minnesota, and over
20,000 of our closes Family Members, Friends, Colleagues, and
Neighbors, all came together to create the very short-lived, yet
truly incredible story and company written about below called,
AdverWorld.

Now some 8 years later, after the very sudden rise and fall of
our little Internet start-up called AdverWorld, the one humble
guy from Minneapolis, while working for this gentlemen, http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/exec/devaan/ presented
our humble story of very brief success to Mr. DeVaan, and to
his Technology Group.

And in the Fall of 2006, AdverWorld was reborn and renamed,
Expotera.

And in the Spring of 2008, Expotera, it's Private Investors, and
it's Founding Members, were all quite suddenly, "HIGHJACKED" by
Mr. DeVaan, and by his Technology Group.

And now in the Winter of 2011, Expotera is currently still being
held, "HOSTAGE" by Mr. DeVaan, and by his Technology Group.

But the one humble guy from Minneapolis, knows that help will soon
be on the way, and all of us, and our baby called Expotera, shall all
live to see, yet another very bright, and incredibly beautiful day.

Power To The People!!


Northscape/Business/Local
Sunday March 02, 1997
12:05 AM (CST)

AdverWorld a Rising Internet Star

Three young Fargo businessmen have been successful beyond
their dreams with online advertising company

By Matt Cory
Herald Staff Writer

FARGO -- When Mike Marcil and Chad Herring were teen-agers,
they used to sit on the pool table in the Herring's basement in
Fargo and daydream about one day owning their own business
and making a ton of dough.

That dream came true.

Marcil, Herring and Sean Kramer, all in their mid-20s, are co-owners
of AdverWorld, an Internet-based advertising company in Fargo.

What's rare about AdverWorld is the speed at which it has risen to
the top of the Internet ranks.

In only six months, AdverWorld has moved from Kramer's two-
bedroom Fargo apartment to the Broadway building offices
downtown with sales averaging $2 million a month.

With more than 100 full- and part-time employees and 20,000
customers nationwide, AdverWorld is the fastest growing company
in North Dakota. It recently received visits from both North Dakota
Democratic Sens. Byron Dorgan and Kent Conrad.

In a nutshell, AdverWorld does four things for its customers. It
designs and puts a web page online for a business and is the host
site for the web page. AdverWorld also will update the web page
and promote it through other users of its site.

"We go after the mom-and-pop operation," Marcil, a UND graduate,
said. "We create something affordable for smaller businesses. We
offer turn-key solutions to small business."

Many small businesses don't have the knowledge or money to invest
to build their own pages, Marcil said. For a monthly fee, about $80,
AdverWorld will do the work for the business.

While providing that service to advertisers on the Internet isn't
exactly a new idea, the way in which AdverWorld went about it is.

After the idea came to the trio, they needed a way to get the ball
rolling.

While they had some capital to start with, the high cost of computer
equipment needed for the operation required a lot more money.

What they did was sell the product before the product was online.

"We premarketed it," Marcil said.

They did that by the network marketing approach. By utilizing the
direct selling method, Marcil said, they were able to attract a larger
number of customers right away.

AdverWorld enlisted independent representatives in the field to
sell their concept to small businesses wanting a web page. Those
independent representatives can also recruit other independent
representatives to go out to other businesses to sell the service.

AdverWorld's owners say the organization is not a pyramid scheme,
which is illegal, because independent representatives do not have to
pay a fee to work for AdverWorld.

And independent representatives do not have to recruit other
members to maintain employment, Marcil said.

While independent representatives get an "override" fee for signing
up other representatives, it doesn't mean the person enrolling others
will make more money.

AdverWorld hired Gerald Nehra, an attorney specializing in direct
selling and multilevel marketing, to set the parameters of its
independent representatives.

He said a pyramid "has no bottom. Each person is required to find
more (people) for income."

At AdverWorld, representatives can make money simply by selling
the web pages, said Nehra, who was the legal division director for
Amway for nine years.

"It is based on products sold," Marcil said.

According to documents sent to the Herald by the North Dakota
Attorney General's Consumer Protection and Antitrust Division,
pyramid schemes "depend on making money from the participants
rather than sales to those outside the company."

As a matter of policy, officials at the Attorney General's office could
not comment on AdverWorld.

Greg Mattson is part owner of Century Electric in Grand Forks. He's
also an independent representative for AdverWorld. He said before
he got into AdverWorld, he did his homework.

"We toured the site and we were very comfortable with what we
saw," he said. "A lot of things hit my desk, but one of the big things
that concerns me is the integrity.

"The word pyramid is not in my vocabulary."

The response of multilevel marketing was "phenomenal," Marcil said.

By the end of October, they had more than 10,000 customers signed
up to go online by Nov. 1. The floor at their first office was covered
with web page orders and only three web page developers, Marcil
said. To create those web pages, AdverWorld started hiring at a
frenzied pace.

"We went from seven employees to over 100 in 90 days," Marcil
said. "We lucked out. We got the right people at the right time."

That included traveling to Seattle, the home of computer giants
such as Microsoft, to find Internet experts.

One was Dan Erickson, a 20-year-old intern at Microsoft who is now
AdverWorld's director of technology.

"It was pretty scary," Erickson said of the situation he found when
he arrived in Fargo. "They had two Pentium servers and a handful
of computers."

With more customers coming every day, AdverWorld kept hiring from the student-oriented employment base in the Fargo-Moorhead area -- mainly North Dakota State University, Moorhead State University and Concordia College.

That's left AdverWorld with a distinctly Generation X feel.

"We haven't placed a lot of (employment) ads," Marcil said. "Everybody knows somebody."

And most everybody that knows the Internet is young, Herring said.

"We tried to find the 45-year-old people who knew the Internet," he
said. "There isn't a lot of gray hairs out there that understand the
Internet."

As the company progressed, AdverWorld has brought more
experienced business people into the fold, Herring said. And
the board of directors being formed also will include the older
generation, Marcil said.

And because there was such a backlog of orders, that meant a
lot of long days and nights.

"We were scared to death. There were a lot of sleepless nights,"
Marcil said.

That hectic workload left the core people with some other problems to deal with. Many employees became physically ill from working such long hours.

But they had promised the customers they would have their web
page online at a certain time, Marcil said. That meant around
the clock work.

"I don't know any 45-year-olds with families that could work 120
hours a week," Herring said.

And in the beginning, that workload was too much even for the
youngsters.

"We lost a bunch of them (customers) in the beginning," Marcil said. "We have been going 24/7 (24 hours a day, seven days a week) for a long time."

AdverWorld went online on the target date, but Marcil said they
were grateful many of the customers were patient with them. With
a recent expansion, it is now possible to get a web page online in
10 days, Marcil said.

Next for AdverWorld is to continue to expand its network around
the country and internationally. It plans to introduce the product
in Canada next month.

http://web.archive.org/web/19970719131429/www.gfherald.com
/biz/local/302ad.htm

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