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announcement 12/11/02: 

the netpreneur community will live on!

Following the original announcement that Netpreneur would sunset at the end of 2002, hundreds of  entrepreneurs, individuals, and organizations have volunteered to keep many elements of the program going. As a result, the Morino Institute decided to continue hosting the website well into 2003, supporting a community that will manage content, discussions, and more. The following was adapted from a recent speech at Coffee & DoughNets by Mary MacPherson.

>> get updates about netpreneur services since this announcement 

>> read the original sunset announcement

"As you all know, last June Mario Morino announced our intent to spinout or sunset Netpreneur, which we confirmed on October 22, and we are well on the way down that path. Following that announcement, we began hearing from hundreds of people who expressed interest in volunteering their time, effort, and organizations to continue the work of Netpreneur in various ways. Many inquiries were made about specific programs or services. We were delighted to see such a groundswell in our community for supporting entrepreneurship, and while Netpreneur as we know it today will still be sunsetting come the end of the month, much of what is most visible and beneficial about the program will continue in new forms.

And, of course, the network will live on.

As I look around this morning, I see a great representation of the richness of the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem—entrepreneurs, funders, service providers, organizations, the media, and more. It’s important that this ecosystem continues to be cultivated and supported with a wide range of programs and services for entrepreneurs at all stages and in all sectors.

website and services
In a nutshell, as we wind down, the centralized Netpreneur team operation will evolve into a distributed network, where a loose confederation of groups and individuals will deliver services or administer processes. To facilitate this, especially during the transition, the Morino Institute will keep the Netpreneur Exchange website operating, and continue to provide access to our discussions and broadcasts.

I want to be clear that Netpreneur is not continuing. The site will be available for reference, but others will eventually be maintaining it. Let me give you some examples: In the AdMarketing list, we have created an advisory group—including Raj Khera, Anne Holland, Dale Gardner, and Andy Brock from this area, plus Sharon Tucci from Canada and Mark Brownlow from Vienna, Austria—who are going to run AdMarketing. They are determining how to moderate the list, how to handle admin as well as what to do about adding content to the website. The members of this community see its value and want to keep it alive and growing.

Another example is Netpreneur Calendar. We have volunteers who have offered to manage the day-to-day screening and posting of calendar entries (from almost 700 organizations across the region, I might add) and send out the weekly broadcast. We expect ActionNet will continue under a similar process, as will Talk the Talk. We are going to continue to publish Netpreneur News through the first quarter, and see if it makes sense for someone or some group to keep it going after that.

As to the site, it really belongs to you. It’s yours to evolve, big or small, and while we will maintain it for some period, we’ll eventually memorialize it unless someone else comes forward to sustain it. I invite you to send me suggestions, comments, and your interest in volunteering for these or other initiatives.

One of the things that we’ve seen from entrepreneurs over the years is a desire to convene—just look at us here this morning. In spite of differences in size, sector, products, etc., entrepreneurs have a relatively common view of life, and of events. Several organizations across the region have expressed interest in collaborating to continue to produce monthly Coffee & DoughNets events across DC, Maryland, and Virginia. At Netpreneur, we have been so fortunate to be able to learn and adapt accordingly as we’ve built programs. We’ll share with others what we’ve learned about events for entrepreneurs and what seems to have worked in the past, and not worked.

In our early discussions, we’ve made it clear that it’s not as simple as “if you build it they will come.” You will only come if what’s delivered is useful and relevant, with a touch of inspiration and with no BS. C&D is based on a straightforward, pull-no-punches style; content that is delivered by veteran and in-the-trenches entrepreneurs, and with communications that enable events to live on through discussion groups, connections between events, and archiving content. And let me acknowledge Dave Gardy and the team from TVWorldWide who film these events and host the streaming video. Since we started tracking this, we’ve had almost 125K hits to various C&D support documents, including summaries, videos, and transcripts.

It’s great to see these groups step up to increase their focus on entrepreneurs and to look at it as a regional effort. Thanks to Bobbie Kilberg and her team at Northern Virginia Technology Council who have jumped on this, along with Lara Vande Walle, the new President of the Washington DC Technology Council; Dyan Brasington at the High Tech Council of Maryland; our colleague and former Netpreneur team member Penny Lewandowski at the Greater Baltimore Technology Council, and Joe Walsh at Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology.

Finally, we’ve announced but haven’t yet given you any details—and I don’t plan to today—that we will be doing one last “mega” event in March. Mario calls this the mega of all mega events. It’s where we’ll hope to bring many here in the region together to celebrate, reminisce, look forward and have an all out good time. We hope you’ll come and spread the word. Details forthcoming.

looking ahead
I mentioned a loose confederation a moment ago. To help build and strengthen the connective tissue among the participants, two of the Netpreneur team will be staying on into next year. We are forming a small advisory group made up of entrepreneurs and their stakeholders to help us with this effort and to serve as stewards of Netpreneur-oriented services for entrepreneurship in the region.

If the spirit, networking, and connections that we’ve cultivated in Netpreneur continue on in other forms after we’re gone, then we think we’ll have done a good job in making this transition. I know I speak for the team when I say that we have all been deeply touched by being part of this community. It’s an experience we would never trade and one that will shape us each for the rest of our lives. It’s been great and even after Netpreneur sunsets, we’ll still be in the network and working it.


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