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January 30, 2006

Successful Internet Business Panel with TiE, Jan. 31st

By Charlene Li

I’ll be moderating another panel this Tuesday hosted by TiE on "How to Build a Successful Internet Business". On the panel will be two entrepreneurs and two venture capitalists providing their wisdom and advice. More details are below.

I’m particularly excited about this panel, especially since I sat on a panel two weeks ago on a SDForum Venture Finance SIG on Web 2.0 investments. One of the questions asked was, “What defines a successful Web 2.0 company?” My answer was the same attributes that defined a successful Web 1.0 company. The same fundamentals apply today, and in fact, the briefing questions I use today are unchanged from the ones I used when I started at Forrester in 1999. I thought I’d share what attributes I look for in a successful Internet business – attributes which I think are important to keep in mind given the Web 2.0 froth today.

1)      Value – How does the company create value for consumers and businesses? Is the company built around a specific end user pain point or is it driven by technology looking for a problem?

2)      Business model – How is the company going to make money? How will it scale beyond simply tapping into AdSense?

3)      Marketing – Especially for consumer-oriented companies, how will the company get the word out? The answer “viral marketing” simply isn’t enough.

4)      Competition – How will the company differentiate from the competition? And what will the company do about entry by deep-pocketed competitors?

5)      Vision – It’s inevitable that the customers and competitors will change over the next few years. Does the management have the vision and plan to anticipate these changes and the leadership skills to shift strategy quickly?

Participating on the panel will be:

Tom Cole, General Partner, Trinity Ventures

James Currier, Founder of Tickle

Tod Francis, Managing Director, Shasta Ventures

Gautam Godhwani, CEO of SimplyHired and former CEO of AtWeb

I can’t help but mention a personal observation about one of the panelists. I met James Currier in 1999 when he was in his second year at HBS. He found me through the HBS alumni network and wanted to get feedback on his idea to start a personality testing site. He was convinced that people would be passionate about taking tests and I was convinced he was doomed to be another flash-in-the-pan start-up. I liked his approach and vision, but thought it was a pretty small market. Over the past several years, I’ve watched as emode evolved into Tickle, and then was acquired by Monster – all the time admiring James’ ability to morph the company while remaining true to those passionate test takers.

The evening should be full of great ideas and if you’re serious about building an Internet business for the long term, I hope you’ll be able to join us.

"Challenges of Building A Successful Internet Business: Stories From The Frontlines"

The Internet has been the foundation for many new businesses, ranging from Google to Craigslist.org, and companies continually come up with better ways to leverage the Internet protocol. But what components really lead to the success of these businesses – was it a matter of luck and timing, or is there something much more fundamental to building a sustainable Internet business? Is the only revenue model today the dollars you can get when you sell to Yahoo!, eBay or Google?

The panel will explore this issue from the perspective of both entrepreneurs who have been deep in the battle for the Internet user, as well as the venture capitalists who placed their online bets – sometimes winning, but more often than not, losing. By attending, you’ll be gleaning the sage advice borne of adversities such as the collapse of the tech bubble, and also learning how to deal with some of the challenges facing Internet businesses in the near future.

Registration online here.

Location: TiE Conference Center, Suite 108
2903 Bunker Hill Lane, Santa Clara, CA

6pm-9pm

Onsite fees: $30 members, $60 non-members

Advance fees: $20 members, $50 non-members

Note: Online registration closes at 12pm on Tuesday. So hurry!

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