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Thursday, Jun 8, 2023


WADE DANIELS Staff Reporter Marilyn Alter had been mulling over the idea of launching a Web site for the Knot Garden, a knitting supply store on Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks. Little did she know that she already had a page on the Web devoted to her business, along with about 9,800 other business on the boulevard. The site (www.venturablvd.com) is a compilation of one-page affairs that simply lists the businesses’ names and addresses. The site was created and is maintained by a Sherman Oaks firm called Net Entry Inc., which makes money by convincing boulevard businesses of the value of a Web presence and then builds them a more elaborate Web site. “We are trying to create the cyber equivalent of Ventura Boulevard,” said William Malin, founder and president of the company. “People can log on and search for any business or any type of business on the boulevard, from Calabasas to Studio City.” Malin started the venture in 1996 after reading a book called “Zen and the Art of the Internet,” which “mesmerized” him with the medium’s potential for commerce. Malin, who was working as an independent career counselor at the time, first considered building a virtual business equivalent of his home town of Sherman Oaks, but decided it would be too narrow a focus. Instead he chose to include all of Ventura Boulevard, and founded Net Entry as the entity that owns the project. “Choosing to build a virtual Ventura Boulevard has a lot to do with my own personal history, because I come from the area,” Malin said. The company charges $125 to build a Web page for a Ventura Boulevard business, and charges $80 a year to maintain the first page and $20 a year for each additional page. The company’s clients have grown from four in 1996 to about 300, with the largest site containing about 200 pages. Malin will not provide revenue figures, but said his company which has a six-member staff became profitable for the first time during the summer. Alter of the knitting supply store said she paid about $200 to have a site built and keep it online for a year. The one-page site has information about the Knot Garden’s product line and services, including its knitting courses. “I figure I’ve had between five and 10 new customers, which is substantial because a lot of my business is repeat business,” Alter said. “It has more than paid for itself.”

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