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Wet Day, Missed Car Start $26 Million Business

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June 07, 2010

Wet Day, Missed Car Start $26 Million Business

By David Sims, TMCnet Contributing Editor

We love stories like this.

Industry observer Steve Garmhausen has profiled Alex Mashinsky, founder of GroundLink, and recounted the story of how the company was born.

It was a wet day about six years ago, and Mashinsky was trying to impress an important business contact. The longtime telecom entrepreneur "had ordered a limo to transport them from the airport, Garmhausen writes. "The limo never showed; after 35 minutes of staring into the rain, the pair climbed into a taxi."

So Mashinsky started a global service where people can find, price, book and pay for ground travel worldwide online. The GroundLink site lets users rate the providers, Garmhausen says, "so other travelers can avoid smelly taxis, unreliable shuttles and overpriced limos."

The Ukrainian-born, Israel-raised Mashinsky, who moved to America in 1989, calls GroundLink "FedEx for people instead of packages," telling Garmhausen "I was using a lot of ground transportation all over the world and was completely frustrated with the level of service and the lack of accountability." Evidently others are too: The company will earn $26 million in revenues in 2010.

Mashinksy was named one of Crain's four top entrepreneurs for the New York area in 2010.

He founded Arbinet (News - Alert), a worldwide electronic marketplace for communications trading in 1996, and sold it in 2005. That provided most of the startup capital for GroundLink, Garmhausen notes, since over 100 venture capital firms passed on the idea.

"At its heart, GroundLink's business is simple: It matches supply and demand in the ground-travel market," Garmhausen explains. "Its proprietary technology lies behind websites and mobile applications developed by Mashinsky and his colleagues."

"They are doing something that no one else is doing," Bob Offutt, a travel-technology analyst with research firm PhoCusWright, told Garmhausen. "They are empowering the traveler to find ground transportation wherever they are."

David Sims is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of David's articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.

Edited by Marisa Torrieri

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