WATERVILLE — As seniors in high school, Dan Hussey and Ted Worcester figured out they could make money by buying up cheap domain names and flipping them for a profit.

But there was one they decided not to sell: liberalartscolleges.com.

“We decided we wanted to develop that site instead of flip it,” Hussey said. “You can make more money in the long run that way.”

Two years later, that’s what the Waterville Senior High School alumni are trying to do.

Hussey, who will be a sophomore at Colby College, and Worcester, who attends Wheaton College in Massachusetts, want to take the liberal arts experience to high school students who might not think to apply to a small college on the East Coast.

Their target audience is middle- to low-income students who live in Western and Midwestern states. Their plan is to build a website showcasing about 30 liberal arts colleges, including the ones they attend, through video tours, information about financial aid and interviews with professors, students and admissions officers. The website would generate revenue through advertising sales.

They also want to develop a social networking aspect to the site, so that prospective college students can share their thoughts about the application process.

Progress on the website could pick up if their idea is a winner next month in a contest sponsored by Pepsi.

The Pepsi Refresh Project accepts 1,000 submissions each month, and awards prizes ranging from $5,000 to $250,000 to about 30 contestants. Winners are determined by the number of votes their project gets on the Pepsi Refresh website.

Hussey and Worcester, who will be vying for the most votes in September, applied to win the $25,000 prize, which would fund their travel expenses when they visit the colleges, as well as their website design.

But their business isn’t dependent on the funding. Regardless of whether they win the contest, Hussey said, they’ll forge ahead with their plan.

Hussey has been spending the summer developing the business plan in the down time during his day job working the front desk of the athletic center at Colby. He communicates with Worcester, who’s been in Alaska working at a remote campground. There’s no cell phone reception at the camp, but there is Internet access via satellite. The two work with one another using online tools such as Skype and Google Wave.

That’s how they’ll continue to collaborate through the fall, while Worcester’s studying at the London School of Economics for the semester.

Worcester said he’s not concerned about having trouble getting his schoolwork done while working on the website with Hussey from across the Atlantic Ocean.

“I feel that if I can work on the project here, I can work on it anywhere in the world,” he wrote in an e-mail from the Alaskan tundra.

Both Hussey and Worcester have the support of their colleges. Worcester was awarded a $3,000 grant from Wheaton to help start up the business. And the director of Colby’s career center, Roger Woolsey, has counseled the young men since they started the project.

“They’ve moved forward very quickly,” Woolsey said.

They’ve already had success by flipping dozens of domain names. Hussey said one sale netted a profit of about $1,500.

Woolsey believes that the concept of the website is valuable because of the money it could save prospective students, not having to travel to the colleges from other parts of the country.

“They’re sitting on something that has a lot of potential,” he said.

But Hussey said the worth of the website extends beyond saving prospective students money. He hopes to give them honest, insider views of the colleges that they couldn’t get anywhere else.

Hussey said he wishes there were a few facts he knew about Colby before he got there.

“They don’t tell you, if you miss breakfast, you don’t get two lunches,” he said. Hussey had to learn that the hard way.


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