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The story of how Ryan Allis helped build iContact from nothing to over $12 million in sales by the age of 23 proves that it is never too early to become a successful entrepreneur. Ryan’s dream began at 11 years-old when he starting teaching senior citizens computer skills in his Florida hometown for $5 an hour. Through these early business opportunities, Ryan learned the importance of word of mouth to expand his client base. A few years later, while in school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Ryan was sitting in on MBA classes at 18. It was at UNC where his business ideas began to fully take shape, and he decided to take the next step toward success.

Through persistence, hard work and his ability to inspire others, Ryan co-founded iContact, the leading provider of email marketing tools for small and mid-sized businesses with business partner Aaron Houghton. From its humble beginnings in a one-room office in Chapel Hill, NC in 2003, iContact today has over 90 employees, 22,000 customers worldwide, and over $12 million in annual sales.

Ryan’s personal account of success is shared throughout his first book, Zero to One Million (Mc-Graw Hill). The book’s first edition was written and published when Ryan was 18, and has recently been updated to include new entrepreneurial tips and advice. Zero to One Million includes Ryan’s 10-step process to obtaining $1 million in sales, as well as recommendations on subjects like how to raise venture capital and create a business plan.

The book is more than Ryan’s personal narrative; it’s a very usable guide for aspiring entrepreneurs, with guidance about how to think through and evaluate their business ideas and goals. Ryan does a fantastic job in conveying the fact that inspiring ideas and vision are important to the success of a business, but so is a sound business model founded on good market research.

Aside from being active in the business and entrepreneurial communities, Ryan is also passionate about giving back to those less fortunate than him. He is on the board of humanitarian organizations like Nourish International ( and Advocates for Grassroots Development in Uganda ( He is also the founder and Executive Director of the Anti-Poverty Campaign (, an organization dedicated to reducing poverty in developing nations.

Now 23, Ryan is the full-time CEO of iContact. With imagination, perseverance, and a good mind for business, Ryan has taken iContact to the forefront of the online communications industry. To read articles Ryan has written, complete press coverage about Ryan and iContact, or to read his regularly-updated blog, visit his website at

This Young Entrepreneurship article was written by Ryan P Allis on 5/1/2008

Ryan P. Allis, 20, is the author of Zero to One Million, a guide to
building a company to $1 million in sales, and the founder of Ryan is also the CEO of Broadwick Corp., a provider of
the permission-based email marketing software and CEO of Virante, Inc.,
a web marketing and search engine optimization firm. Ryan is an
economics major at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,
where he is a Blanchard Scholar. [learn more].