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Old May 22, 2003, 09:48 PM
Dien Rice
 
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Default I just watched the documentary "Startup.com"....

It's about two guys who started up a dot-com company, govWorks.com - and the stratosphereic heights which they rose to (at one stage they had 200 employees) - and of course the big fall....

Their big idea was a web site where you could pay your parking tickets, and handle any other local government "red tape" you had to do...

If you had any interest in the dot-com boom, it's compulsive viewing. I didn't have anything directly to do with the dot-com boom (apart from starting our humble little site here, plus a couple other little projects), but I do have friends who were directly involved in the dot-com boom.

A couple friends of mine joined up a dot-com which started in Sydney, which then moved over to Silicon Valley - only to implode.... (I visited them and their office around mid-2000, when things were still looking good.) Another friend of mine actually started her own dot-com company, and raised over a million dollars before the crash came. (I visited her office in San Francisco at the same time - she had about 30 employees at that stage....)

One thing I noticed from the documentary was that there seemed to be less of a focus on profitability and more of a focus on whether their site was "good enough" and whether it looked impressive. I think the reason why that was the case was because in order to get more VC funding, you had to impress them with a good-looking web site...

Of course, NOW we know that how impressive your site looks is nowhere near as important as whether it can SELL. I know several sites that look pretty scrappy but which are GREAT at selling... Their "scrappy" look makes theem feel more personal, like you are dealing with a real person.

In the documentary, there was a LOT more emphasis on getting the VC funding (more and more of it - and then more and even more) in order to keep going, than there was in actually turning a profit. Wow, how times have changed!

If any of you see Startup.com available to buy or rent, get or rent yourself a copy - it's fascinating stuff. Learn from their successes and also from their mistakes! :)

- Dien Rice

P.S. govWorks.com is no more - it looks like it was eventually sold (under bankruptcy) to www.govONEsolutions.com - which IS around. It looks like the founders ended up getting nothing.... I've noticed that one of their competitors mentioned in the film, www.ezgov.com , is also still around.

I think another lesson from the documentary is the lesson about egos.... The dot-com boom was largely ego-driven, and I think big egos can make colossal mistakes. When you don't have TOO big of an ego driving you I think you tend to make much sounder business decisions....
 


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