Netpreneur John Daniels
With tenacity--and a movie--this serial netpreneur is determined to succeed in cyberspace.
By the enthusiasm in John Daniels' voice, you would neverknow there was a dotcom bust. The eternal optimist, he'sclearly determined to make the Internet work for him. Daniels beganhis dotcom journey after college with virtually nothing but adream. He's gone from one dotcom failure to the next, but thathasn't stopped him yet. Documenting his personal experience ofthe rise and fall of the dotcom industry, Daniels is now in theprocess of turning his story into Dotbomb: The Movie.Here's a glimpse of his take on the "dotbomb"phenomenon.
Entrepreneur.com: How did you come up with the idea foryour movie?
John Daniels: The movie was written while I was on theroad trying to start my own dotcom, PuppetCity.com. The movie isautobiographical as it follows my character on the road, at timesbeing homeless, meeting people and working odd jobs trying to saveenough money to start my dream. The movie has been writing itselfover the past five years. It's about what happened to theindustry, the Silicon Valley and the rise and fall of the dotcom.You should see the look on people's faces here. I see it everyday. I look out my window, and people are afraid-they'retrying to hold on to their jobs; there are "for lease"and "for sale" signs everywhere. Despite the shakeout,there is still hope here. We will never give up.
Entrepreneur.com: What was your first experience in thedotcom world?
Daniels: I started making my way out to California in1997, not knowing anything about html. I taught myself how to builda Web site. It took me about a year to build the PuppetCity.comsite and add a secure shopping cart server, and then another yearto advertise. In 1999, it just exploded as word got around. About100,000 people were coming by daily. It started with just one ortwo orders per day, then it grew exponentially. That's how itfailed. It grew faster than I could manage. When the market tankedand my stock portfolio went down, I didn't have enough capitalto reinvest in PuppetCity.com to bring it back to life and give itthe proper infrastructure that it needed.
Entrepreneur.com: What have been some of the greatestlessons you've learned in your past endeavors?
Daniels: One lesson I learned from PuppetCity.com is thatwhen you focus on one product or you're too dependent on onemanufacturer or niche, you leave yourself vulnerable, andthat's one mistake we didn't want to repeat. Currently wehave plans to develop more than 300 portals. We have a really bigvision, but we're also realistic, and we know that we need towork on it one portal at a time.
Another mistake I made with PuppetCity.com was that I justdidn't have the knowledge of how to turn it into somethinglarger. And I think the fact that I did it alone was a big mistake.At the time, [with] my history with PuppetCity.com and myattachment to it, I wanted to keep the whole thing to myselfwithout taking in any investors or sharing equity. But I think Ilearned my lesson. That's why with my new organization,B2BeMarketplace.com, we've put together a group of 10entrepreneurs from the Valley. Together we pool our resources andknowledge.
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