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E-commerce company 004 settling into Research Park
[June 22, 2010]

E-commerce company 004 settling into Research Park

Jun 21, 2010 (The News-Gazette - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- An e-commerce firm based in Germany has opened an office in the University of Illinois Research Park.

This is the first U.S. location for Aschaffenburg-based 004 Beratungs GmbH, a company founded in part by University of Illinois graduate Robert Hein.

The U.S. subsidiary, called 004 Technologies USA Inc., offers what President Patrick MacKay called "end-to-end e-commerce," which involves everything from developing a website to project management, marketing, customer service and fulfillment.

Eight people, including MacKay, a technical director, project manager and five interns, work in the office. Four of the interns are computer science students at the UI, and one is from the university's master's of business administration program. The office opened June 1.

Their office is in EnterpriseWorks, 60 Hazelwood Drive, C, the UI business incubator for startups.

The parent company, founded in 2003 by Hein, who received a bachelor's and master's degree in business administration from the UI, has had an internship program with the university.

It involved UI students working at the company's headquarters in Germany during the summer.

A location for the U.S. office in "the research park made sense because we have access to faculty and students in one of the top computer science programs. ... The talent pool is huge and very rich. There is a tradition of innovation here (at the UI) and we'd like to tap into that," MacKay said.

"For what we're doing, we don't need to be in New York City or Chicago," he added.

Eventually, MacKay said, he hopes to hire more programmers and business analysts.

"We also see this as a great pipeline of sorts," MacKay added. MacKay, who has a background in studying international politics, recently earned an MBA from the UI and participated in 004's intern program.

Current UI business intern Alan Auyeung said he decided to apply for the 004 program because "there's something exciting about being involved in seeing a business grow and develop," he said.

The firm has several projects in the pipeline, including developing an iPhone application that allows e-commerce clients to track their product sales in real time, such as what are the top-selling items and how certain products are selling.

MacKay said they are able to work with companies on their e-commerce and mobile web projects as well as facilitate a company's entry into the European market or a European company's entry into the U.S. market.

Perhaps within the year, MacKay said, the company would like its own office in one of the other research park buildings.

"Both (the UI and 004) think it's important to develop businesses that will grow and stay in the community," he said. "We want to stay in the area." The company 004 (named so because of the four founders) has 140 employees. It also plans to open an office in Amsterdam this year.

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