Cyndi Perlman Fink: Cyberdiet

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Cyndi Perlman Fink is a writer and entrepreneur. During the first Internet boom, she sold her company Cyberdiet for $22 million.

“I was working 24 hours a day on this website. It was my passion. My partner was a registered dietician. We were always putting up new articles and thinking. My husband would walk in and say ‘I don’t understand what you are doing, you aren’t making any money.'”

Cyndi taught herself programming when she was 50 years old. Then she built her business with the skills she acquired.

“I am a firm believer that any problem can be solved. I believed I could teach myself programming and I went out and bought books. I would sit there with the books open for hours. And if I couldn’t get it, I would just do it over and over again until I got it.”

“Eventually I knew I could do everything myself when a problem came up and I knew how to fix it without looking at the books.”

“When we started, we knew the site was going to be diet and health related. We knew we would never sell vitamins and potions and lotions. We wanted to give people menus, and support, and information. We had a community, and it was so vibrant and people loved it so much, that we finally had to start splitting it into groups and subgroups.”

“One of the fellows on the site was over 300 pounds and couldn’t even walk out of his door. He was housebound. We started working with him, and he went from not being able to walk half a block to hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Cyberdiet changed his life.”

“The first month we had 426 visitors. By the end of the first year we had over two million. That was with no advertising.”

“Then we were in Newsweek, Time, and Playboy. Forbes Magazine picked us as its best website of the year. That was a milestone. As the years went by we got more attention.”

She showed me the award she got from Forbes. It was a golden computer mouse.

“The site was crashing under its own weight. We had to keep ramping up with more servers. We didn’t mind putting in the money and the time.”

Cyndi regrets going to work for the company that ended up buying Cyberdiet.

“I went to work for the company that bought Cyberdiet. What I took away from that experience was that when you sell your company, you should walk away. ¬†They changed it so much. There were ads everywhere, and they blinked. Remember the blinking ads?”

“That was the wild west. Nobody knew anything.”

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