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H’w’d tyro breaks Newgrounds

Dot-commer Fulp would rather teach than sell

When 22-year-old Tom Fulp recently made the rounds to show off Netcaster Newgrounds.com, Hollywood’s biggest Web entertainment players were eagerly looking to buy into the money-making venture.

Fulp didn’t sell.

Instead, the young tech-savvy industry outsider — he lives in Philadelphia — has decided to hold his own ground and continue teaching Hollywood dot-comers the ways of the Web with his 2-year-old site featuring animated comedy shorts and viciously funny celebrity-bashing games.

Getting into loop

“It was good to just meet everyone because I felt out of the loop,” Fulp told Daily Variety. “I left feeling it’s not super amazing out there. I pictured even more bigger things happening and got the impression that I knew more than I thought I knew. I felt I’m not so far behind everyone else.”

Indeed. While several of the new entertainment Netcasters are struggling to find audiences — some are even struggling to get off the ground — Newgrounds.com is attracting 1.2 million unique visitors per month. That’s without advertising and without major investments from outsiders.

Fulp’s secrets to success:

  • Keep it fun: “If you have a site, be sure to keep it fun,” he said. “Entertainment sites have big links to their business models. When you put that stuff up, it loses a little bit.”

  • Move quickly: “These other companies aren’t small operations. Decisions are passed around through committees. Create something, put it on the Web and see what people think.”

  • Connect with your audience: “People like to feel that they’re close to the people who create programming on the Web. People like talking to me.”

  • Keep it simple: “Sites try to push too much on audiences. Yahoo still manages to be the top site because it’s layout is simple. You still have to realize that a lot of people out there have slow Internet connections.”

Expansion plans

Fulp plans to expand beyond being a “crazy site for games” and branch into other areas, such as music.

“I didn’t intend to make a living off of the site,” Fulp said. “I put a few banner ads on the site to pay for the Web hosting and was happy when a few months went by and I was able to pay the electric bills.”

Fulp isn’t alone, however, in his endeavor.

Newgrounds has been adopted by both the William Morris Agency and management production outfit Bender-Spink. William Morris is handling strategic investments and deals while Bender-Spink is handling the syndication of content to other Web sites.

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