In just two weeks, Dan Pallotta went from living the entrepreneur’s dream to shutting the doors on a business that employed 400 people and that had, in no uncertain terms, revolutionized the retail fundraising market. His company, Pallotta TeamWorks, organized charitable walks and rides to benefit AIDS, breast cancer and suicide prevention efforts, in partnership with the Avon Products Foundation. Their relationship with the company ended abruptly in early 2002, when Avon announced they were taking some time to re-evaluate their fundraising efforts. Just a few months later, the storm broke in the worst possible way. Avon appropriated the Pallotta concept and rolled out a competitive program, backed by millions of marketing dollars. Two weeks after full-page Avon ads appeared in the country’s major newspapers, Dan Pallotta announced his company was closing. Here, he recounts the darkest period of his professional and personal life — and shares what it means for the rest of us.

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