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Entrepreneur: Bismarck Lepe, 29

Funding: $10 million from Sierra Ventures and undisclosed private investors

Just before he left his job at Google, Bismarck Lepe was assigned the task of helping wring profit from online video site YouTube. Though intrigued, Lepe was daunted by the prospect of the red tape he'd face within a large company. So Lepe left to start his own online video business, Ooyala, in 2007. Since then, Ooyala has helped such big online players as AOL, Warner Brothers, TV Guide, and National Geographic make money on the videos they place on the Web. Using Ooyala's flagship product Backlot, companies get detailed data on video viewership, including what sections are being skipped. Lepe expects Ooyala will turn its first profit by July.

Lessons learned: "Hire the right people. Ultimately, it's about the people. Any time that we've been unsure about a candidate—sure enough, six months down the line it didn't work out."