By Cindy Kano

(FORTUNE Magazine) – Tokyo Founded 1988

When Noriko Kajiki, 44, made her first stab at finding a new way to shrink and encode video signals, she found few believers--even among her own employees. Nearly all of the 300 engineers she had hired quit. Kajiki and the three remaining engineers soldiered on and in 1998 started licensing a technology she dubbed Nancy: a compression system that enables cellphone users to watch video in real time. Nancy has caught on among phonemakers; Motorola, Nokia, and Siemens have all licensed it. Now China Mobile is testing the low-cost Nancy as a way to transmit live TV programming--think concerts and sporting events--over cellphones to its three million users. --Cindy Kano