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Ryan DeLuca

When Ryan DeLuca combined his hobbies and his willingness to take risks, he transformed himself from a "technically unemployed" 20-something to chief executive officer of Meridian, Idaho-based Bodybuilding.com, the Internet's most-visited bodybuilding and fitness site.

DeLuca likes bodybuilding. But he also likes the Internet and discovered the World Wide Web in the mid-1990s.

DeLuca spent nearly every waking moment learning the intricacies and workings of the Internet, and in time started making a little money writing "special reports" on topics like getting in shape and how to use the Internet.

That led to a hankering to do more business online. DeLuca started with Creatine, the enormously popular muscle supplement. He realized that, if he bought Creatine directly from its manufacturers and re-sold it with a small mark-up, he could charge nearly a third less than other sellers.

It wasn't long before DeLuca added more supplements to his product line. Then he took a huge risk by getting a $20,000 loan to buy the domain name bodybuilding.com.

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The risk paid off: DeLuca was able to repay that loan in a year, the company's growth exploded and DeLuca now is positioning Bodybuilding.com to achieve even greater success by providing the kind of quality products and service that turns customers into evangelists for the site.

Bodybuilding.com plans to ramp up its site, which already is rich in information and motivational features, by providing more features on MySpace, personalized user content, easier site navigation and, in the "real" world, international expansion of the company's warehousing.