What It's Like to Work at MVP.com

Interviewee: Ian Drury, chief technology officer

Company: MVP.com, a sports and fitness electronic retailer www.mvp.com, whose directors include John Elway, Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzky

Main location: Downtown Chicago, on the West Loop

Number of information technology employees: 25; IT will double over the next year.

Number of employees (end users): Roughly 100

Launch date: Site announced Dec. 22; opened for business Jan. 26

Site traffic: "I can't share specific numbers, but traffic has been brisk. Our infrastructure withstood the volume driven by our Super Bowl pregame ad and a live mention of the site by John Elway during the game. There were 800 million people watching when he mentioned us, and traffic spiked over 30 times within 10 seconds."

Do your celebrity directors get involved with IT? "They are all Internet users; in particular, Elway is an avid Internet user."

Compensation: "For IT, this is a fairly competitive marketplace. All permanent employees have equity in the company. And we cover all the expenses of our health care plan."

Dress code: Casual. "Basically, whatever you want to wear as long as it's decent. A lot of people here are interested in sports and fitness and the outdoors, and you see that reflected in their dress."

Do you look for sports enthusiasts? "It's not a requirement, but it's what has attracted a lot of people to come here."

Workday: 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. "I'd say that right now we work 10- to 12-hour days."

Decor: "The ceilings, duct work and cabling are all exposed. We have a mix of pictures of our Web site, competitors' Web sites and sports photos. Everyone has had a chance to clear out their attics and dens and bring in photos of themselves in different sports. All the conference rooms are named after Chicago sports venues, like Comiskey Park, Wrigley Field, Soldiers Field."

Computers: Compaq servers; Pentium III workstations for the IT staff

Is on-site day care provided? "Not at this point. In IT, I may be the sole parent."

Average age of IT staff: 26 or 27

In-house cafeteria/food service: None. "But generally there are 30 or so people who are working into the night, so we order dinner every evening and rotate the cleanup activities."

Free refreshments: Coffee; sodas are only 25 cents.

The one thing everyone complains about: "We need more conference room space. We're moving in May because we're just exploding out of this space."

Plans for the new space: "We really want to keep the current look and feel of this space, so we're taking out the ceiling tiles to have exposed ceilings. It's a nicer building, closer to downtown. And we're putting in recreational areas, like a pool table, a Foosball table, a TV, some treadmills and exercise bikes, a small workout area and showers."

Where the office gossips: "A club down the street called The Drink, especially on Thursday nights. That's ''70s Night,' and they have a band called the Aphrodisiacs."

Perks: Monthly team events and parties, tickets to sporting events (such as the National Hockey League All-Star Game), Starbucks coffee and periodic 20% discounts on selected manufacturers' merchandise.

Would employees feel comfortable e-mailing the CEO, John Costello? "Absolutely. He freely invites feedback from employees. There's no door on his office."

Quote: "What's really powerful here is being a part of creating something from the ground up. The whole team shares in that and feels ownership and enthusiasm."

Focus on Workstyles

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