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Internet Startups

Concentrate on these Five Areas for Success
People - Innovation - Focus - Speed - Equity

People - Get good people, they matter most. This encompasses three categories, employees, partners and customers. Employees create and implement the value proposition of the business. Partners broaden your reach and value. Customers are the ultimate arbiters (it used to be revenues, however, for the Internet, it's get as many customers-eyeballs as quick as you can).
If you have the best people, you'll have the best odds of achieving that vast pool of customers to carry your business aloft. Find startup time to find the right talent, which will breed more and better employees, partners and customers.

Innovation - Dare to be different- not digital. Business innovation in the Internet space means providing more value for less money--proving better value propositions that cost less and offer more. Keep in mind that cost-less (saving money) encompasses saving time.
The Internet used to be about creativity, today it's about application, it's more about business-model innovation than product innovation. The best Internet companies find a way to change the rules for an industry. Amazon is not about selling books, it's about innovating a new type of retailing via constant new partnerships, acquisitions and expansion.
If you can, you must. If you can innovate, drop prices, save time, launch a new service, speed delivery--you must. If there is a better business model to pursue, a better value proposition, you simply must do it. If you're lucky, you will end up with the AOL problem--your customers are mad at you because they can't get enough of your product/service.
Instead of releasing a lot of features (which increases your customer-service problems), release a small feature set and get as many customers as you can. Small feature sets mean you get out sooner with greater speed. Internet innovation is perpetual.
Create benefits, not barriers. The Internet dictates that new services that provide benefits flourish. Focus on creating customer benefits and continually expanding a better value proposition for the customer.

Control Capital The ideal Internet capital model is -- release a new product every three to six months so you can leverage that to raise the next round of financing. It's a capital treadmill; run your business so you hit fund raising milestones to attract the next round to live to fight another day.

Focus - Focus is what brings it to fruition. Selling is the simple value proposition. A focus on: one-click ordering, great Website design, collaborative filtering, relentlessly increasing the customer experience, all accomplished in the formative stage, fulfill the value proposition.
It is very seductive to try to reach for too much and address too many fronts. Learn to say no. Don't spread your value proposition too thin. Focus on your basis advantage. Don't attempt to be broad-based and hinged to different markets and a multitude of objectives. Startups are baggage-free and hard-wired to gather focus quickly.

Speed - Get out in Front and run like h!!! The best thing to do is to get into the marketplace. Why? The primary mission is to get customers. Get a product out in four months or go home.
All you get is a chance to compete in the market place with a good team. Speed impresses customers; captures markets, before and hence without challenge; draws capital, which can be used to buy more speed, more innovation more focus and specialization. The first companies to market merely have to explain the market opportunity; later entrants must justify why they will succeed.
On the Internet, the rules seem to change every six months. Spending three months putting together a detailed contract with a partner--the terms of which most likely are not going to be relevant for long--hardly seems worth the effort. Time spent negotiating contracts, in turn, undermines your time to market.
Successful startups use speed to initiate a feedback loop that converges its offering to best-of-breed. Speed wins! Execution makes you tops!

Equity - The people magnet. The motivator. Stock is never as valuable as when it is startup stock. Equity is also a key lever in accomplishing your primary mission--attracting good people into your company. It's not only what gets them in, it's also what motivates and retains them long enough to achieve some level of success.
Create an innovation, retain good people, which in turn attracts customers. Then use customers to attract capital and then spend capital to hire better people and attract more capital.

The I-Net Business Summary – In the Internet universe, the entrepreneur needs to tell their story at I-speed. Here are some mandatory hints:
Source: The magazine: Business 2

Re-engineering To Empowerment

The most popular management fad of the 1980s was "re-engineering" which encouraged management by the numbers. Even as it promoted the use of teams and the breakdown of bureaucratic barriers, re-engineering provided the intellectual rational for managers to cut costs by dramatically downsizing their work force, boosting work per employee and pushing profits sharply higher. Re-engineering was a great deal for shareholders and C.E.O.'s with stock options.
The trouble is that after a decade of shrinking, companies can no longer make money the easy way, by simply cutting expenses. They now have to grow and introduce new products. That calls for creativity, not accounting, and the pendulum is currently swinging in management theory toward "soft" ideas. Enter empowerment of employees, decentralization, the business as an organism, even artist and designer as models of creativity. Go crazy, be ad hoc, take down the walls, be a learning organization, get New Age. At the very least, respect the employee as a knowledge worker. That's were we are now.

(Excerpt from a book review by Bruce Nussbaum-The New York Times-1/12/97 - of the book The Witch Doctors by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge-Times Books/Random House)

What an opportunity for entrepreneurs! The large corporations are back in the market seeking new products, services and companies to strategic partner with, acquire and buy. Smart entrepreneurs are creating, conceiving, inventing, beta testing new products and services and contributing a lot of "value added." That gives them the edge to continue to cash in on the large corporate dollars. That's were they should be now.


Leadership Through Learning


The entrepreneurial leader of today faces the challenges of cyberspace, globalization and technology driven change. You can’t be an entrepreneurial leader in a situation of extreme change without the ability to learn at a high rate.

This new focus on learning adds a future oriented dimension to the myriad descriptions of theories about and strategies for leadership. It accepts the reality that the relentless learner has replaced the know-it-all leader. The "leader as a learner" applies a holistic approach to an interlocking global marketplace and integrates information into a vision of the business. The best leader today is the best learner and has the best, most complete map of their company’s organization and its environment.

In today’s business environment, vision involves opportunity-seeking in true entrepreneurial style. The successful entrepreneurs are horizon watchers and "what-if" business leaders. They aren’t just managers as were typical some years back. A manager-leader comparison shows:

Because of our increasing complex business environment, no one leader can get their arms around all the technology that’s available and useful. Hence it’s important that today’s leaders build teams. Consequently, the leading entrepreneurs of today, in reality, are "learning" leaders of teams.


Where Do You Fit In?

There are the four generations in the workplace today; veterans, boomers, x-ers, nexters. Each is coming from a different place with different values. This synopsis may help you understand how to effectively work with and among them.
Each category is presented with three comments/descriptions;
VETERANS – Born 1922 to 1943 – 53 million of them
Events/trends - Patriotism, families, great depression, New Deal, World War II, Korean War, Golden Age of Radio, Silver Screen, Labor Unions.
Core Values – Dedication, sacrifice, hard work, conformity, law and order, patience, respect for authority, duty before pleasure, adherence to the rules, honor.
Personality – Conformists, conservative spenders, past-oriented, belief in logic- not magic.

BOOMERS – born 1943 to 1960 – 73 million of them
Events/trends – Prosperity, children in the spotlight, television, suburbia, assassinations, Vietnam, Civil rights, Cold War, Women’s Lib, space race.
Core Values – Optimism, teamwork, personal gratification, health and wellness, personal growth, youth, work, involvement.
Personality – Driven, soul-searchers, willing to “go the extra mile,” love-hate relationship with money.

X-ers – Born 1960 to 1980 – 70 million of them
Events/trends – Watergate, Stagflation, latchkey kids, single parents, MTV, AIDS, computers, Challenger, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Glasnost, Wall Street frenzy.
Core Values – Diversity, thinking globally, balance, techno literacy, fun, informality, self-reliance, pragmatism.
Personality – Risk-takers, skeptical, family-oriented, focused on job—not work hours.

Nexters – Born 1980 and later – 70 million of them
Events/trends – Computers, school violence, Oklahoma City bombing, TV talk shows, Multiculturalism, girls movement, McGwire and Sosa
Core Values – Confidence, civic duty, achievement, sociability, morality, diversity, street smarts
Personality – Optimistic-yet realistic, prefer collective action, tenacious

Source: The book: Generations at Work – American Management Association


How to Be the Best