Big Fish, Big Pond

Attracting High-Tech Entrepreneurs

What else does it take to stand apart from the competition and grab the attention of these high-tech matchmakers? Here are Kawasaki's suggestions:

Short but sweet: "In order to communicate the three qualities mentioned above, the team needs a tight, insightful business plan and presentation," says Kawasaki. "Tight means 20 pages or less for a business plan and 12 slides or less for a presentation."

The grand illusion: Everyone wants to be the first at the gate, entrepreneurs and investors alike. "Create the impression of scarcity. If there's anything that investors hate more than a lousy deal, it's being shut out of a good deal. So entrepreneurs should go after many investors at once," explains Kawasaki.

Buyer beware: Cousins, childhood friends, neighbors and your dad's cousin's sister may provide cheap services as attorneys, bankers or accountants, but in the long run, you'll do better to pay for the knowledge you require from those who actually specialize in start-up work. Investing in sound advice is crucial, especially in the start-up phase.

True value: The same can be said of investors as well. "All money is not created equal," advises Kawasaki. "Some money is more valuable, [such as] money that comes from sophisticated investors who can mentor and connect you."

Avoid the pitfalls: "The two most dangerous pitfalls are getting too much money, because it encourages sloppy thinking," says Kawasaki, "and believing one doesn't have to have [a strong] business model because `things will work out or we'll be acquired.' "

All told, however, whether you'll stand out and become the next dot.com to make history all depends on you, your idea and your drive. "It would be easy if there were a set procedure or formula. There really isn't," says Kawasaki. "The big picture is that you get an idea, form a team and work like hell. With hindsight, you'll come to believe various factors (many of them serendipitous) helped, but each company is unique."

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