Europe’s Top 100 Internet Ventures

Number 13 –

A star performer from Northern Ireland, BlackStar has customers in more than 100 countries and is a B2C internet company that is pulling in real money. Think of Amazon, cut out everything but movies and you have BlackStar.

The trio who founded the company are Darryl Collins, the chief executive, who has a film-production background, Tony Bowden, who set up the first net company in Northern Ireland and Jeremy Glover who was formerly with the McCann-Erickson advertising agency.

The company, launched in January 1998, exploited the fact that there was no American competition in videos (they have a different format there). BlackStar is busy cashing in – with all current-release videos and DVDs on offer. The site is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and provides free delivery.

Last August, BlackStar arranged backing for expansion from Atlas Venture and a consortium led by David Bonderman, the Ryanair chairman. Some of the investment has been spent sponsoring Formula One – the company has its logo on the helmet of the Jaguar driver Eddie Irvine.

BlackStar employs simple but effective techniques to ensure customer satisfaction, including a full-time e-receptionist.

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