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Summer 2003 CalBusiness  
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The Battle for Your InBox: Sticking to the Fundamentals

At a time when many Internet entrepreneurs are looking for new jobs, Gina Lambright, MBA 98, is settling into her fourth year at the helm of Quris Inc., an e-mail marketing company in San Francisco.

“The Internet got too big too fast, and a lot of companies without business fundamentals failed,” said managing director Lambright, who spent seven years in advertising and marketing after college before deciding to earn an MBA. “But e-mail is still around and going strong.”

Quris (pronounced cure-is) helps Fortune 1000 companies, such as Charles Schwab, Blockbuster, and Travelocity, figure out ways to use e-mail to increase customer loyalty and engagement with the company, and to reduce costs. Schwab provided the initial funding to Lambright and co-founder John Funk in late 1999. Quris has helped Schwab develop a range of e-mail services, such as daily delivery of a client’s stock portfolio into a designated in-box every afternoon or immediate e-mail notification of a securities rating change.

In starting the company, Lambright accomplished precisely what she intended when she went to business school: “I had entrepreneurial aspirations, but I needed to learn more about running a business. I was so marketing oriented—I needed to round out my skill set and gain knowledge of finance and accounting.”

Lambright has leaned on her MBA, she said, and notes that Michael Katz’s business strategy class has come in especially handy. So has the Bay Area’s Haas alumni network. One of her classmates, Michael Sippey, is one of Quris’ managing directors. Lambright says she also remains in close contact with at least a half-dozen other classmates, relying on them for research and advice.

To survive in today’s business climate, Lambright says, requires “a lot of slogging, a lot of hand work.” Quris’ emphasis on basic business fundamentals is helping the company stand out, but Lambright acknowledges that the end of the dot.com boom has made it hard to make money. An essential quality, she says, is a company’s ability to be nimble and responsive to the market and, in her field, to be flexible enough to adapt to new technology.

“It’s a highly competitive environment in the in-box,” she says. “But we believe we’re capable of a lot of growth. There is a gap between what consumers want and what marketers have delivered so far. We plan to be here to ride it out.”

—Pam King

 

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Gina Lambright
Gina Lambright
MBA 98

Managing Director, Quris,
San Francisco, CA
 
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