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Matthew Garceau knows salespeople are only as good as their contacts. He had been in sales for 10 years before he co-founded $3 million, 20-employee Orbis Technology in Andover, Mass. To pitch his technology consulting service to big clients, Garceau made calls and asked for referrals. He also bought expensive databases, only to find them filled with outdated names.
Then he tried Jigsaw.com, an online database of business contacts that's a cross between eBay and a swap meet. Members enter contact information (no cell phones or personal e-mails) for the folks in their Rolodex. For each name, members receive points they can use to buy names other members have entered. "The site lets you take a lead you can't use and trade it for something that is useful," Garceau says. Those who enter out-of-date or incorrect information lose points and lower their eBay-style ratings. Jigsaw Data co-founder Jim Fowler plans to lock out members whose approval ratings fall below 90%.
San Mateo (Calif.)-based Jigsaw already claims more than 356,000 names at 35,000 companies, just a few months after its launch. So far, it's strongest in technology and tech-related industries -- where salespeople are used to pressing the flesh virtually. By Susan Price