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Talk 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" (http://www.edie-online.com). 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."

Copyright 1997 Morino Institute. All rights reserved. Edited for length and clarity.  

 

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