July 1, 2008

Web Site Targets Women 35 and Older

By Nancy Isles Nation, The Marin Independent Journal, Novato, Calif.

Jun. 30--When Belvedere resident Julie Wainwright realized the information she was seeking on Internet Web sites did not address women her age, she seized the opportunity to create one of her own for women 35 and older.

Wainwright made a name for herself as the chief executive officer of several dot-com companies and, like many of her colleagues, she went through the dot-com bust of 2000.

As CEO of Pets.com, Wainwright was dealt the task of paying back shareholders and letting employees go.

At the same time, her husband asked for a divorce. Wainwright, then 43, found herself without a job, without a husband and without children.

She turned to the Internet for information about the issues she was facing and saw that there was a need for something for women who are household decision-makers.

At that time, she didn't think that many women in her age group used online resources, but she continued her research. Last year, she discovered that 45 million women went online once every seven days. She decided women were ready for SmartNow.com, the Web site she used to pull together experts in areas such as women's health, adversity, self-improvement, beauty, fitness, spirituality and humor.

"We're just trying to fill what I think is a real need," said Wainwright, 51. "We have experts writing about specific issues that women face as they age."

The site also offers user groups, product trials and chat rooms. In just about a month of operation, SmartNow.com has counted more

than 4,000 visitors.

Wainwright is now working to raise awareness of the site and build advertising, which typically comes from companies that produce or sell products mentioned or reviewed on the site.

"They are having a hard time reaching that target audience," Wainwright said.

She expects the business to become profitable quickly because it does not require a lot of capital.

Dr. Joseph Andris, an anesthesiologist at Kaiser Permanente in San Rafael, agreed to write a blog for the site after being approached by Wainwright and doing some research of his own. He found the same lack of resources for mature women that she had.

"This is good practical information for anybody, but particularly women," Andris said. "She is steering us into things that have been useful."

Jeanie Brown, owner of Jeanie's Java in Tiburon, is featured on the site as an inspiration because she started her coffee shop at 72 and at 80, still serves customers every day.

"I feel honored to be affiliated with the ladies that are on there," Brown said.

Read more Business and stocks stories at the IJ's Business and stocks section.

Contact Nancy Isles Nation via e-mail at [email protected]


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