December 26, 2000, 9:55 AM

Blue Martini mixes merchandising with tech-head expertise

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Though off to a strong start, Blue Martini faces some obstacles. One is managing the costs of consulting services that its clients need to buy to implement its software. “You don’t want third-party players to drive up the cost to key clients,” says Tim Harmon, vice president at Meta Group in Stamford, Conn.

Analysts also wonder if an upstart can work up the momentum needed to succeed against more established rivals. Though it has signed some impressive clients, Blue Martini remains a “relative unknown” in software circles, says Baltaxe. The coming year will be an important one for the young software company.

Still, in building its brand, Blue Martini’s name certainly doesn’t hurt. Evans and Zweben wanted an easy-to-spell, memorable name that steered clear of words like Web, Net or commerce. They served up Blue Martini, not such a surprise from a guy who gave us Red Pepper. Says Harmon: “I joke with Monte that the next company he starts will be called Green Salsa.”

Ray Paprocki is a free-lance writer in Granville, Ohio.

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