Tuesday, September 23, 1997

Canadian Consulate + Augustine Fou's "e-dinner" (Entreprenuer's Dinner)

Later on Tuesday, 9/23, the Canadian Consulate General and Augustine Fou (go-Digital Internet Consulting Group) hosted this month's "e-dinner" (Entreprenuer's Dinner http://www.edinner.org). Set down in the concourse level of 1251 Avenue of the Americas, our trip to Canadian soil was a modern
comforting experience. The fine blond wood paneled room with seafoam green marble tiled floors and matching carpet was a warm invitation despite the nice wine and cheese.

Here's the run down of the speakers:
Ted Werth who co-founded TotalNY, and managed it successfully until it was recently acquired by Digital Cities/AOL. Merger completed, he is consulting with several entertainment and new media start-ups.

Todd Krizelman/Stephen Paternot - Todd and Stephen co-founded WebGenesis, the company that created The Globe which today boasts 600,000 registered users and recently landed $20 million in additional funding.

The topic of this month's e-dinner is "Internet 201: Managing Success."

Following are some sound bites for the quote hungry...(please note these are not direct quotes, and in some instances I summarized).

What works?
Krizelman: it's developing the team, there's no room for egos...stick with an idea, persistance.
Werth: Building a big brand on the web...the brand is critical.
Paternot: Unless you have a big brand, or lots of money, you probably can't make it.

(!) wow. Telling that to an audience of New York Entrepeneurs is like giving Jimmy the Greek tips to a betting junkie. Case in point, Susan Tracy is looking to start her own business, has "a dollar and a dream" and aspires to be on the WWWAC Board and Party Coordinator.

Question posed by seasoned journalist Katherine Cavenaugh:
What's their definition of success?
Werth: Everyone defines success differently...Not to have it [TotalNY] go down the tubes in 6 months.
Paternot: Is finding venture capital succss? No. Is having people leave AOL to join them success? Yes.

Other questions asked were:
How did they start their marketing?
Paternot: Word of mouth.
Krizelman: Gut instinct... thought about how they were being presented in brochures, on the web. They launched on 4/1/95 (no joke) but didn't begin subscription services until late summer of '96. Their subscription is pretty reasonable considering it is $25/year, and you can have a no-obligation 6 month
trial period. If at that time you decide to get a paid subscription -- you get a discount!

Werth: Lots of cross-marketing -- did article/link exchanges with  Hampton's Magazine, Flatiron News, did lots of events, cybercast...

Krizelman: they turned away money because the Angel didn't share the right vision

Paternot: The Globe is beginning to follow the Silicon Valley lead in handing out equity to employees as a way to give/get something and loyalty from the employees.

Ted encouraged Heidi Lee, a recent grad from American University, to explore her interests by researching on the web, and that there are books and websites devoted to business plans if she needed.

Co-Host Augustine Fou added the Small Business Administration is also on the web (http://www.sbaonline.sba.gov/).

What's the future of the internet?
Paternot: building routers and switches (!) Actually -- How people socialize, virtual communities... New York *will* become the top financial center.
Werth: E-commerce... How will anything be sold but at the cheapest price. There will be a lot of competition in this area. Also: they've been saying "content is king" for a long time now -- content will eventually converge with TV so you will be flipping through and be able to see streaming TV.

Ted Werth goes to the "About" section of any website first to find out who are these people? Who will I be dealing with? What type of organization is this?

Other guests present: Chef Ashbell (foodstop.com, and in size 23 shoes!), Mariel Smith, Bob Ponce, and Bonnie Siegel who needs volunteers for some exciting educational programs with children and computers. Larry Kessler of "Let's Talk Business" network (www.ltbn.com) mentioned the mentoring program at Columbia University's New Media and Business Program. They are looking to raise $10 million, which will match corporate mentoring of an individual's education. Lauren Wechsler
(Dir. Marketing and Communications, Kokopelli) filled me in on an upcoming Valentine's Day event. Kokopelli is doing the website for V-Day '98 where celebrities (including Drew Barrymore, Susan Sarandon, Bette Midler, Wynona Ryder) will perform pieces from Eve Ensler's renowned "The Vagina Monologues."

Gregory Belmont (CereBel.com) informed us his site's virtual communities, specifically the Chess Club which has existed since March 1995. Michael Chaut, insurance-man for internet companies by day/magician by night performed a few impromptu tricks for us after the panel. He produces a Monday Night magic sgiw,

I joined Jeff Stewart, Sunny Youn (inventor at AT&T Bell Labs, syoun@attmail.com), Ann Yokum, the svelte Uta Knablein and GQ-ready Justin Greene (Greene Communications, www.gcdi.com), afterwards for a diet coke while they munched on a slice of pizza.

(This is the unedited version. The edited version appeared originally in @The Scene in the @NY newsletter)