Six months: 180 days; 26 weeks.

Long enough to know if a project is going to fail, but not quite long enough to be absolutely assured you've got a winner. It's long enough for a romantic relationship to take hold, to know if a car is a lemon.

Rick Redding

A lot of products, such as kitchen appliances, have six-month warranties. If you buy a refrigerator and it works well for six months, then you've got to figure that whatever problems you have after that aren't necessarily GE's fault.

And if you launch a Web site and don't find an audience in six months, you can figure it's time to find another line of work. The unemployment rolls are chock full of dot-com executives who thought their Web-based idea (remember the idea of selling 50-lb. bags of dog food online?) would change the world.

The good news is that Steve Coomes, editor of PizzaMarketplace, can feel assured in his job. Six months after launch, our little Web site is growing every day, posting increases in site visits, hits, memberships and advertisers. We reached the 1-million-hits-per-month milestone in April, much quicker than expected.

It's time for a realistic assessment of what we've accomplished at PizzaMarketplace since we created and launched this peculiar monster last November. Back then, skeptics told us no one in the pizza business read their e-mail, that operators are too busy to get online, even that the idea of news about the pizza industry on a daily basis would be hard to find.

Here's what we've learned in six months. The peak viewing hours for our site are between 11 and 1, making the case that some in the pizza business use the lunch hour to check out the news online. We've seen activity on our site rocket upward each month, and a glance at the list of subscribers to our e-mail alerts shows that we're reaching independent operators, executive at pizza chains, vendors and suppliers, exactly the type of reader we targeted.

We've established a relationship with you, the reader, and we want to keep it going.

Editorial edge

Our end of the bargain is simply this -- we're covering the industry like it's never been covered before. We've published more than 300 pieces of news, and much of it has been reported here first. Consider our current series of exclusives on the controversy at Shakey's Pizza. We published our groundbreaking story on April 3, weeks before the chain's problems were reported in any other foodservice magazine. This week, we were the only media organization to report on a written response from an official of Shakey's Singapore-based owner, Inno-Pacific Holdings, Ltd., published in Singapore's Business Times. Next week, expect even more in-depth coverage.

There's nothing tastier than a good scoop to satisfy the cravings of a journalist, but we're just as proud of our other journalism work. We've examined fluctuating cheese prices by providing insight into how and why prices move in that market, and we supplied operators with expert advice on how to defend their profits when costs climb. Our Research Centers on tomato sauce, toppings and POS systems have helped operators to look at seemingly old products in new ways, and a research center on telecommunications systems is coming in June.

On a more personal level, we've probed the minds of some of the most powerful people in pizza to find out what makes them tick. I've discovered the single-minded focus the Todaro family puts into making LaNova Pizza and its wings company work, how Pete Picurro justifies purchasing a Honda Insight for his delivery drivers' use, and how Dave Brandon went from warming the bench at Michigan Stadium to the top spot at Domino's Pizza. Last month, we discovered a guy named Tony Gemignani who throws dough so well he's traveled the world putting on shows, even appearing on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno."

Speed thrills

The unique advantage of our product -- a trade publication delivered online -- is and always will be speed. It's our view that in the modern workplace, information is power, and knowing key information first is an advantage.

Have an opinion?

Do you agree with this commentary? Do you disagree? If you have a passionate opinion about this commentary, please drop us a line at editor@networldalliance.com and we will include your comments in a Reader Feedback section at the bottom of this page.

When we considered building this site, we discovered an unfilled niche for instantaneous, daily news about those involved in the pizza industry. So we report on the financial results of public companies within an hour of the release of their official statements. By now you know that when a public company such as Papa John's makes an official statement, you'll be able to read about it here within the hour.

How it works

So at the six-month mark, it's a good point in a relationship to take a hard look at where we're going together. You might wonder about our business model. It's a simple one.

Our revenue comes from advertisers, and PizzaMarketplace is turning that corner as well. An accepted premise in the advertising industry is that if you create an audience, someone will be willing to pay for it. We're convincing more and more advertisers every day that their marketing dollars work harder at PizzaMarketplace.

Industry leaders such as Paradise Tomato Kitchens, Burke Corp. and Rockland Technology Group, all of whom are sponsors of Research Centers, are just a few of the first to jump aboard. Now that we've established a significant audience, so our advertising department co-workers tell us, many more companies with a story to tell will be signing on.

Making it

Just this week, we were mentioned in a story in The Wall Street Journal. Steve Coomes was quoted in a story, and PizzaMarketplace identified as a "Louisville firm that tracks the industry."

It was a minor mention in a major publication, but it certainly helps solidify our status as a legitimate media operation.

In business, you learn pretty quickly whether your idea has the energy to make it in a competitive environment. Sure, it's easy to draw a crowd for a restaurant opening, but if you've got people coming back six months later, that's a sign you've got a hit on your hands.

At PizzaMarketplace, a lot of you are coming back regularly, and for that, we thank you. We promise to continue working hard to give you quality journalism at a great (free) price, any time you want it, 24 hours a day.

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