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August 3, 1999
ISP Manoj Puranik Is Nominated For Top Award
Nitish S Rele in Tampa
About six years ago, when the University of Florida at Gainesville would not allow Internet access to its students, a computer engineering student and his friend decided to start their own firm -- the Internet Computer Company.
Their retail computer store would soon finance their entry into the emerging Internet access business.
Today, Manoj Puranik is president and CEO of Atlantic.Net, the largest privately held Internet service provider in Florida. Puranik, 26, was recently named finalist for Florida's Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award.
Pune-born Manoj migrated to the United States when he was 2 years old. He grew up in Fort Lauderdale and later went to the University of Florida at Gainesville to study computer engineering. It was here that Manoj met his partner, Jose Sanchez, who would join him in starting ICC in 1994 in Gainesville.
ICC quickly acquired a reputation for quality and service. A year later, it launched one of the first commercial Internet services in North Florida, which rapidly expanded out into other nearby markets. The company continued to sell computers and software until ceasing retail operations in spring of 1996 to completely focus on Internet connectivity. Since then, there has been no looking back for the young entrepreneurs.
Today, Atlantic.Net has over 22,000 subscribers in 40 locations throughout Florida. It has added more than 70 employees to its staff in less than three years. Revenues have doubled every year since the company was founded. In 1998, it was recognized as one of Florida's 100 fastest-growing private companies by the University of Florida's Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
"In the next five to 10 years, we should grow or get acquired," predicts Puranik. "We want to use the Internet as enabler for businesses and residences."
Puranik is presently working to get a business degree at the University of Florida's Warrington College of Business. "I want Atlantic.Net to become big enough to go public," he says. "We expect to get there within 12 to 18 months and really continue to grow. We are using new technologies and taking advantage of the new technologies to decrease costs and increase revenue. Last year, our revenue was in the multi-millions."
Atlantic.Net dial-up accounts begin at $ 9.95 per month, including access to the World Wide Web, electronic mail, discussion groups and other features. It also offers Web design services, high-speed dedicated access and Web hosting services for businesses. By the end of 1999, its network is expected to span nine states in the southeastern United States.
Atlantic.Net recently expanded its Internet service into six additional calling areas. Its 56K access is now available in Tallahassee, Fort Myers, Vero Beach, Palm Coast, Fernandina Beach and Deland. "So we are growing rapidly," adds Puranik who is excited about being nominated as a finalist for the Ernst & Young award. "It's pretty neat," he says. "We are happy we are nominated and hope to live up to expectations of so many people."
Atlantic.Net can be accessed at its website at www.atlantic.net
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