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HEARD ON THE BEAT: Technology

Rbid.com in a Contest to Get Its Message Out

September 27, 1999|JONATHAN GAW

It seems that every week a company is declaring that it has a soup-to-nuts solution for small and medium-sized businesses going online. With such a crowded market, it's difficult to get attention.

Over the summer, Laguna Hills-based Rbid.com Inc. tried a $50,000 sweepstakes to lure visitors. The promotion ended on Sept. 5, and the company, which had to extend the contest and has yet to name a winner, hasn't been thrilled with the response.

"I think we were a bit too premature, considering our [Web] sites weren't complete," said Peter Ferras, president of Rbid.com, whose stock trades over the counter.

Ferras said the company has picked the winners and their names will be announced within days, but some contestants, used to fast-moving Internet companies, are getting antsy over why it is taking so long.

The next attempt to be heard above the crowd: infomercials. The company hopes to have them air in October.

Pitching Internet store-building tools to small businesses in 30-minute segments at 1 a.m. on cable television may seem like a far-fetched way of reaching the tech-savvy audience, but Rbid.com won't be the first to try.

In 1997, Newport Beach-based ThemeWare had Richard Karn, the actor who played the sidekick to Tim Allen in the television sitcom "Home Improvement," pitching the company's Internet tutorials.

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