High Hopes

A Closer Look

Although high-tech entrepreneurs may excel in coming up with innovative product and service ideas, or developing a company that is a sure-fire hit on the Internet, not all are gifted in the area of growing and managing their businesses. Sometimes the real barrier to success is the founder.

"If the CEO becomes a constraint to growth, [he or she] needs to have the wisdom to [adjust his or her] role," Stitt says. Smart owners aren't afraid to pay for people who can handle positions they're not strong in.

Having difficulty letting go is a trap many entrepreneurs fall into. Matthew Glickman and Mark Selcow, both 33, know this problem well. In 1996, they founded BabyCenter, a San Francisco Internet company that provides a complete online information resource and store for new and expectant parents; it also has a division that designs Web sites for health-care organizations.

Early on, Glickman and Selcow wore many hats, playing crucial roles in the development of BabyCenter's Web site (http://www.babycenter.com), online store and Web site development division. "As founders, we had to do everything," Selcow says. "But we quickly realized we were both becoming overwhelmed."

After long hours and sleepless nights, Glickman and Selcow realized they needed to concentrate on building the company. Three rounds of venture capital from such companies as Intel have helped, as has the partners' focus on long-range issues, such as developing their online store and forging strategic partnerships.

Last year, the partners created several management positions and tripled their staff from 20 to 65 employees. They also adopted a management strategy that lets the reins out further: team management. "They have to be justified, but we let the team make its own decisions," Selcow says.

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This article was originally published in the March 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: High Hopes.

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