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Social climbing pays in the virtual world
Rajeshwar Anand is making waves in the world of the internet.
The 25-year-old entrepreneur has founded a company that creates interactive websites. Kwiqq, set up four months ago, is based at the Sussex Innovation Centre in Falmer.
Kwiqq's web-based software creates online social networks so that a company's customers can share information by uploading data such as pictures, video clips and reviews.
Social networking sites such as MySpace, YouTube and Holylemon are at the vanguard of an internet revolution and have all been sold for eye-popping sums of money.
Proponents say social networks help strengthen a company's brand, develop customer loyalty, expand their customer base and grow revenues.
Kwiqq's target clients include sports, media and travel businesses.
Already Crawley-based holiday operator First Choice Travel has signed up, using the product with its 2wenty and Holiday Village brands across Europe.
Raj is getting noticed. He is on the short list for Business Week's Europe's Young Entrepreneur 2007 Award and has been invited to contribute ideas for improving the role of information technology in democracy.
Raj invented the Kwiqq software while studying computer systems engineering, computer science and artificial intelligence at Sussex University. He was later put in touch with Andrew Burke, professor of entrepreneurship at Cranfield University, who invited him to pitch his product in a Dragon's Denstyle competition.
Raj was one of six entrepreneurs chosen by the panel and won Government funding to take a short MBA course. Things snowballed quickly when Raj found a Brighton-based business angel, David Hill, prepared to invest £70,000 into setting up a business.
Kwiqq was launched in January and now employs nine people.
Raj has decided to employ a chief executive to run the business while he takes the role of technical director.
He has hired Jack Fairhall, former boss of Brighton-based event management group E3.
Raj said: "I have little experience of running a business.
When I met Jack he immediately said he liked the product and wanted to get involved.
"This is a very exciting time for the internet. Ask any marketing or advertising expert and they all say the same thing - social networking is going to make all the difference."