Mad Mimi vs. Constant Contact
Mad Mimi vs. Constant Contact
The challenge: A self-taught techie takes out established e-letter services.

What they did: Looking for an e-mail newsletter service to promote his gigs, Brooklyn musician Gary Levitt, 33, came up dry. Most were too corporate and offered bells and whistles he didn't need. So Levitt taught himself to write code and came up with an easy-to-use service for the indie crowd called Mad Mimi in 2008, charging subscribers monthly fees starting at $8. He built a following by offering freebies like help with newsletter templates by in-house designers. Revenue, he says, grew from about $2.5 million in 2010 to nearly $5 million in 2011. Levitt now has 90,000 registered users. To keep overhead low, he's avoided real estate costs. Everyone at the 24-person company works from home. "We have a starving artist mentality," he says.

This article is from the March 19, 2012 issue of Fortune.
By Elaine Pofeldt, contributor @FortuneMagazine - Last updated March 21 2012: 6:25 AM ET
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