"We aim to be a market leader in that segment," Toby Corey, executive vice president of marketing, said in an interview this afternoon. "We're continuously growing out the USWeb network."
USWeb's concept is a cross between the Kinko's copy and the television affiliate models. With $17 million in capital, USWeb set out in April to conquer the professional Web market by offering franchises to already-established businesses. No cookie-cutter chain outlets, the franchises must be screened before being accepted as a USWeb company.
As of today, the company has signed up 23 of the more than 1,800 companies that have applied to become franchises, Corey said, and it's adding five to seven more a month. It recently added USWeb affiliates in the heart of the Web revolution: Palo Alto, San Francisco, and Sunnyvale, California.
In exchange for a franchise fee, the companies get four basic services: shared technology research and services; operational products such as accounting forms and discounted business supplies; continuous education; and, perhaps most important, marketing.
In fact, now that USWeb has signed up what it considers to be a critical mass of franchisees, it is launching into the second phase of its business plan: a massive ad campaign that aims to draw in medium and large businesses interested in creating both Internet and Intranet presences, Corey said.
And despite its name, USWeb is not limiting itself to the states. It already does business in Canada and plans to go after markets in Japan, Singapore, Germany, the United Kingdom, France Australia, and New Zealand, in that order.
Next week, USWeb will announce a deal with Shiva to resell its remote access products.