Hooked On Speed

Synchronize the Site With Slow Connection Speeds

Gigabeat, an online music gateway and search engine, has also been created with speed, efficiency and flexibility in mind. Using data-mining technology, the Palo Alto, California-based site is designed to arrange and serve up comprehensive music information faster and better than ever before.

Gigabeat's co-founders, Narayanan Shivakumar, 26, Erin Turner, 25, and Wilburt Labio, 28, know firsthand about living in the college-connection fast lane. All three received degrees from Stanford University just last year, and they're keenly attuned to the expectations of the fickle college crowd. Still, they want to make sure their site is accessible to those consumers who may not have such speedy connections.

"Because our generation comes out of this environment, fast access is something you tend to assume," says Turner. "But we also have stepped back and asked, as we branch out to newer audiences with modems, what kind of accommodations do we want to make to also reach them?"

It's a dilemma that has plagued many new sites that want to reel in the young, bleeding-edge audience without leaving other potential Web visitors in the dust. Keep in mind that the latter group may include some loyal users who usually (but don't always) have access to fast Web connections.

Stein advises start-ups to identify a primary audience, build for that speed and assume that other people will eventually catch up. At the same time, UConnections accepts slower-speed users by making various media-rich parts of the site elective.

"We give them choices on our site," says Stein. "If you have a 56Kbps modem, you can access most of our core services, but if you have a faster modem, services like the video streaming and games work much better. We need to make sure the core piece offers the easy access and level of flash that they want, but with the ability to go further and faster."

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This article was originally published in the October 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Hooked On Speed.

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