About Recruiting and Netpreneurial Growth at
Coffee & DoughNets
(Vienna, VA -- August 22, 1997) Two hundred present and future
netpreneurs heard important announcements and joined a vigorous
discussion of issues such as high-tech staffing at today's Netpreneur Program Coffee & DoughNets session at the Tysons Corner Sheraton Premiere
George Gingerelli described the Mid-Atlantic Venture Association (MAVA) Conference (http://netpreneur.org/events/mava/) which will meet November 11/12,
and is expected to attract nearly 600 venture capitalists and private
investors. Sixty invited netpreneurs will present business plans and
proposals. Virtual presentations can be delivered quickly to numerous
potential investors without formality by the EDIE-Online Web site,
"Electronic Data for Investors and Entrepreneurs"
Audience interaction intensified -- this was not a shy crowd -- when a
question about scarcity of employee prospects sparked a vigorous
discussion of skills, attitudes, motivation, recruiting resources and
techniques, finding lesser-known sources such as Marymount University
(http://www.marymount.edu/), and swapping contact information.
Enjoying the bright and cheerful morning, the crowd's collective
energy built as people gathered, chatted, munched and sipped, listened
to focused presentations on local resources and opportunities,
offered personal insights and experience, exchanged business cards and
lingered until well after 11:00 am.
Penny Lewandowski welcomed attendees, remarking that the great
turnout shows that there is no August slowdown among netpreneurs.
Continuing efforts to facilitate netpreneurs connecting, she announced a
September 3 event focusing, in response to requests, on PR. The 150
slots filled within 24 hours of announcement, validating the session's
urgency. Content and resources will be made available to those unable to
attend. She also mentioned the "Storyboard" program, announced at July's
DoughNets, which provides a "safe" audience for practice and feedback
delivering company presentations. Penny proposed the well-received idea
of DoughNets meetings offering one or two very brief case studies, to
shape discussion and provide feedback to presenters.
The Netpreneur Program's Mario Morino engaged the audience by reviewing
netpreneurial progress and encouraging attendees to continue building
the local Internet industry and infrastructure together. He solicited
success stories and suggested using Netpreneur Exchange news mailings as
both a source of current and valuable business news and a tool to
recruit, network, and market. Even companies not yet on the media's
radar can mention milestones such as funding and contracts. Here, as in
so many other fields, activity begets activity, and visibility can cause
serendipitous events. Mario mentioned an upcoming luminaries lunch,
featuring speakers such as Alan Spoon, Washington Post president, AOL's
Bob Pittman, and senatorial candidate Mark Warner.
He noted that the DC-area groundswell is being noticed, so the time is
ripe to market and sell from here -- locally, nationally, and
world-wide. A broad presence and reach can be created by using agents
and distributors. As, for example, Computer Associates absorbs
companies, many agents and distributors are orphaned and lose their
product relationships. They can be recruited to broaden their
portfolios. At the same time, Mario encouraged using local resources for
insights, information, and contacts. "Contact appropriate people in
companies like Landmark, Intersolv and AOL," he suggested, "Network with
their marketing, sales and business development staffs. 'Borrow' Rolodex
access." Seemingly inaccessible people can often be reached through
common contacts or interests as intermediaries. Large company resources
can sometimes be accessed by networking with product or business
managers for mutual interests and contacts.
Mario continued the discussion about recruiting staff, noting that too
much emphasis is placed on science and engineering. He indicated that
it's most critical to have bright and energetic people with the right
attitude and skills, and much less important to acquire a particular
discipline's credentials. The first Web project he saw was created by
humanities folk, not technicians. In the future, he feels that database
competency will distinguish "Web sites only" enterpreises from deeper
and more fundamental business-critical resources.
Attendees discussed plans and the planning process, with one audience
member remarking that one often sees steps A and Z identified, leaving
rather a large gap without steps B through Y analyzed. An unusual
resource can be soliciting companies in your industry for old plans,
then borrowing ideas regarding content and format. Other suggestions
were to consult books such as Kim Bayne's new "Internet Marketing Plan"
(http://www.wolfBayne.com/library/book.html), and the SEC's Edgar system
(http://www.sec.gov/edgarhp.htm) for public filings with business plans
Gabe Goldberg announced that Mario will speak about the local Internet
industry and community at the September 9 meeting of CPCUG's Internet
SIG (special interest group) (http://www.cpcug.org/user/internet). Gabe
described this group as one of more than a dozen grass roots
technical/community organizations which can offer netpreneurs customers,
sounding boards, focused personal networking, marketing and product test
volunteers, and (certainly not least, considering the employee
discussion) recruiting prospects.
As usual at Coffee and DoughNets, networking continued after the group
discussion, with attendees dropping a good word here and there about the
Netpreneur Program and Coffee & DoughNets sessions particularly. Greg
DuPertuis, President of The Adrenaline Group, Inc.
(http://www.adrenalinegroup.com), a new and enthusiastic DoughNets
attendee, remarked "What a great idea! This is exactly what a new
services company like ours needs -- the opportunity to meet potential
clients and partners, mixed in with Mario's candid feedback on business
issues we all face."
Positive feedback also came from Ross Stapleton-Gray, Director of the
Electronic Embassy Program (http://www.embassy.org), who noted that the
program "has already helped bounce me off other people who have skills
and insights I don't; I followed up this session with a skull session
with a VC partner, management placement expert, and prospective general
manager type, to discuss the business I'm interested in launching."