In August, Businessweek.com kicked off its second annual search for the best young entrepreneurs in the United States, and after receiving nominations from hundreds of readers for their favorite promising ventures, the site has narrowed the list down to 25 companies it feels have serious potential.


Among the esteemed group of 25-and-under, mostly Ivy League graduates—who’ve created such businesses as Fit Fuel (health-food vending machines) and Mobo (a mobile ordering system where customers order and pay for takeout on their cell phones)—are two young men who want to revolutionize the custom-jewelry business.


Matt Lauzon and Jason Reuben, both 21, started Paragon Lake (Paragonlake.com) in August, a Beverly Hills, Calif.-based online store that offers consumers custom jewelry delivered with little wait time. The process is simple: For engagement rings, a customer can choose a diamond based on the Four Cs, a desired price range and a view of the GIA cert; then choose from a variety of setting options based on the look, metal, style and desired price range. Or, a customer can choose to design a unique engagement ring, non-bridal ring, bracelet, earring or necklace with the company, which “can create anything we can put to paper,” according to the site. As soon as the order is placed, a jeweler is assigned by the company's Los Angeles facility to begin handcrafting the piece using a three-dimensional computer drawing, and the finished jewelry is delivered to the customer in a few days. Materials are ordered on an as-needed basis from local suppliers.


According to Businessweek.com, Lauzon and Reuben raised $200,000 for their venture through an angel investor, with the option of another $500,000 from the same investor provided they hit growth targets. They’re already projecting $3 million in revenues by August 2007, and plan to use their existing technology to help independent retailers streamline their manufacturing processes starting in March 2007.


It will be interesting to see if Paragon Lake achieves its ambitious objectives. It’s off to a good start, with both its owners’ education and the tremendous success of youth-generated online start-ups such as Google and YouTube on its side: Lauzon and Reuben are both graduates of Babson College, recognized internationally for its entrepreneurial leadership, with an MBA program that’s been ranked No. 1 in entrepreneurship by U.S. News and World Report for 13 straight years. And let’s not forget that last year’s first-place winner of “The Best Entrepreneurs Under 25” contest, social-networking site Facebook.com, is now being eyed by Yahoo for more than $1 billion, according to Businessweek.com.


Businessweek.com is expected to announce the winners of this year’s “The Best Entrepreneurs Under 25” contest this month.



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