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The very next Monday, Daylert opened, borrowing space in Epok's offices. Now the hard work began: Building the site and seeing whether people would use it.

Epok contracted out six employees -- Web developers ages 29 to 55 -- to Daylert.

One afternoon last fall, the developers gathered with Hassan in a conference room at the office, divvying up tasks for building parts of the Daylert site. A test version had launched for a few hundred users at Virginia Tech, Fordham Law and Radford University.

Hassan asked the developers to build a chat function, so two users could send messages to each other. He had spotted a similar function on Facebook the night before and wanted to see it on Daylert.

"We don't need chat right now. It's not necessary," said developer Chandra Danam, 37, who wanted to focus on core features such as the calendar.

"I'd like to see chat," Hassan said. "Let's do it."

The back-and-forth continued for a few minutes. Hassan won the argument.

"You've got to have certain processes in place," developer Steve Green, 41, said in an interview. "He didn't always know what it would take to put something together. What should I expect from someone who's never done this before?"

Hassan said he's learning.

"A lot of it was impatience on my part. I wanted to catch up in terms of the product and the market share," he said. "In the early days the biggest problem was with my team. They would be telling me we need to do this and that and maybe a more experienced CEO would have understood the balancing act better."

By the early winter, Daylert had matured into a usable site. Students had their own pages, which would list their class schedules and would be viewable by their friends. Students could add other events, too. Professors could upload syllabuses, and both students and professors could keep track of who was registered for classes.

But Hassan faced two hurdles if he wanted his company to survive. He needed more capital to build and market the site so he could attract more users. But he also needed more users so he could earn advertising revenue and therefore attract more capital.

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