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Stephan Goss  

Founder & CEO of Zeeto

As a Swiss immigrant studying at the University of Albany, Stephan Goss lived off money from affiliate marketing: He'd advertise companies' products across the internet, and they'd give him a commission every time he sent them a paying customer.

In 2011, a health care client led him to a lucrative insight. If he could identify high-value Web visitors, such as diabetics, the client would be willing to pay him six times more, or $8 per lead, as opposed to the usual $1.25. So he started showing visitors a one-question survey that simply asked whether they were diabetic. If users said yes, Goss would show them relevant ads immediately after. That strategy became the basis for Zeeto, which has bootstrapped its way to 80 employees and projects revenue climbing 27% to $43 million this year. Today Goss has about 25 engineers and 7 data scientists working at his San Diego-based company on thorny math problems, such as determining the series of survey questions that generate the most ad revenue.

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