Call it Travidia

Four years ago, when mainstream advertisers were still skeptical about the Internet and the dotcom crash was well in the future, the founder of Chico-based AdExpedia had an idea that some thought wouldn’t fly: take traditional print ads and, in addition to inserting them in newspapers, pop them online and make them searchable for shoppers.

“There were naysayers who are our customers now,” said CEO John Strisower, who started the company. “The retailers in particular were a little bit slow. It’s really coming of age right now.”

Those who have signed on include Petco, Michaels Arts & Crafts and newspapers such as the San Francisco Chronicle and the Dallas Morning News. Each time the company gets a new client, it assigns a team to it and hires more people. Currently, 120 are employed, most of them in Chico.

With a new infusion of “Series B” financing, the company can continue to build. The investors—founders of the Catalina Marketing Corporation and the founder of DoubleClick Inc.—get preferred stock in the private company and seats on its board of directors. The funding is made even more significant in that few venture capitalists survived the dotcom crash—nobody’s throwing money around like they used to.

The company also got a new name: Travidia. “We were ready to sort of ‘rebrand,’” Strisower said, and at the same time they were getting “nudging” letters from law firms representing the Internet travel site Expedia.

Strisower said it’s possible Travidia may one day be acquired by a large media company, but if that happens he’s sure it wouldn’t leave Chico. “We’ve built something very economical that’s based here,” he said. “It’s not economically feasible to move.”

Fair trade

I was otherwise engaged last Saturday (16 hours of non-stop scrapbooking, baby) and thus dispatched intern Peter Kimmich to check out the International Trade Fair put on by Chico State University business students. Here’s his report:

If you think it’s hard to face a salesman who is trying to hard-sell you something, try it when the salesman is an elementary-school kid trying to sell you two glow bracelets for the price of one, because the other one is a little cracked.

That was the challenge faced by any visitor to the Cal-High SIFE Competition and International Trade Fair held on the Chico State University campus on March 29. The event, put on by Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE), combined a business competition with sales, with the businesses being run by high-school students and elementary kids.

Event co-organizer and Chico State senior Melissa Houston said the competition portion of the event stressed business ethics and customer outreach.

“It’s not based on who makes the most money; it’s based on who follows all the criteria,” she said.

Students from high schools statewide ran their own businesses for a year, then reported back to SIFE in order to compare notes. Those and other businesses then got the opportunity to display—and sell—their wares to interested passersby during the trade fair, which was the source of the balloons and crowds surrounding Acker Gymnasium Saturday.

Also involved in the trade fair was the SIFE-run group Wise Kid Wealthy Kid, a business camp in which Chico elementary-school kids learn the ropes of running a business. Each elementary student, upon graduation from the four-week camp, was awarded $25 in startup capital to start a business for the fair either alone or with friends, Houston said. They apparently knew what they were doing, as Houston said they collectively raked in around $2,200.

It makes one want to stop writing for a newspaper and sell glow bracelets.