Lessons Learned

Believe it or not, you can start an e-biz without going down in flames. Our special report will help you start wisely.

When David Tanguay, 28, walks into his Quebec City office in the morning, he isn't worrying about layoffs or plunging stock prices. The CEO, president and co-founder of Wanted Technologies thinks more about working with his 45 employees, meeting his five VPs and keeping his investors up-to-date. Founded in 1997 and launched in 1998, the data management company has weathered the technology fallout by avoiding the dotcom stigma and sticking to sound business fundamentals.

If the heaps of high-profile dotcom failures and horror stories haven't deterred you from wanting to start your own Internet company, then congratulations-you already have the gumption to get started. Since we know you don't want to jump straight from start-up to cyberscrap, however, we're going to help you sort out how to get your Web business launched on the right foot. For advice along the way, we tracked down one Internet survivor, one start-up and two experts who've seen it all.

What's in a Dotcom?

"To me, 'dotcom' means a company that relies on eyeball traffic to the Web site in order to generate revenues and be viable. That model has not proven to be very effective . . . "

The best way to start a dotcom, in fact, may be to not start one at all. "Lots of people saw us as a dotcom in the first years," says Tanguay, "but when they saw our business plan, it was, 'Oh, it's just a technology company, so you guys are boring.' Today it's kind of different because we're saying, 'Aha, we told you.' " The Internet is an important component of Wanted, but it isn't the be-all and end-all of the young company.

Todd Defren, managing director of high-tech public relations firm Sterling Hager's San Francisco office, tries to sort out this dotcom quagmire. "To me, 'dotcom' means a company that relies on eyeball traffic to the Web site in order to generate revenues and be viable," he says. "That model has not proven to be very effective, except for maybe the early pioneers like the Yahoo!s of the world that themselves are facing trouble."

Don't abandon your dotcom dreams just yet, though. "There are plenty of companies being started up or funded that aren't specifically dotcom but do use Internet technology to create a viable business model," Defren concludes. Free your dotcom definition, and the rest will follow.

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This article was originally published in the June 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Lessons Learned.

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