LifeServ, a Chicago-based start-up, is eschewing the current focus on community Web sites and producing a series of ad-supported Internet and software products that try to help people cope with life events.
Advertisers seem to like it.
So far, Mead Johnson, Ford Motor Co. and Gruner & Jahr USA Publishing are among those participating in BabyServ, a program LifeServ launched March 24.
It includes a Baby Guide CD-ROM, a calendar and other planning desktop software called BabyLink. It also has interactive capabilities, such as BabyHelp, ad-supported informational e-mails and BabySite, a free home page that new parents can personalize to announce the birth of their new born and communicate with friends.
"Our whole role is to educate people on life events," said Rob Reynolds, president of LifeServ.
LifeServ has a $1.2 million commitment from Ford to target new parents with car information. It's also has a "near a million" contract from Mead Johnson to build an informational site about baby formula, Mr. Reynolds said. To help distribute its products, it's also secured a barter deal with Gruner & Jahr to promote BabyServ through the free Baby Magazine and other G&J magazines targeted to new and expectant moms.
Ads in these publications drive users to BabyServ.com, where they can sign up to receive the free software package.
Last fall, LifeServ launched WedServ, which has 180,000 people enrolled, and in May it hopes to launch HomeServ and a program about College Planning.
The private company, which recently closed a $2 million round of financing, is bucking another Internet startup trend. Mr. Reynolds says it's profitable.
Copyright March 1999, Crain Communications Inc.