Friday, April 2, 1999

Business Boot Camp

Associated Press
Hawaii-born CEO Guy Kawasaki goes over his
"10 rules for revolutionaries" during the opening session
of the Bootcamp for Startups on Wednesday at the Center
for the Performing Arts in Mountain View, Calif.

get whipped
into shape

Partners in startups are being
schooled by the pros on how to
make it in the world of high-tech

By Martha Mendoza
Associated Press


MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. -- At his first day of business boot camp, graduate student George Shillenger broke a light sweat, took a deep breath and described his plans for launching a high-tech company.

"We're building a community of science on the Internet," he said.

What about making money?

"Oh yes," he said, relaxing a bit. "We're planning to make a lot of money."

Sharpening up business plans is what this training ground for entrepreneurs is all about. Shillenger, who hopes to fire up his Web site this summer, was among more than 600 aspiring entrepreneurs this week learning some tough business lessons about making it in the light-speed world of high technology.

The attendees hope to receive some of the more than $16 billion in venture capital expected to be invested in start-up companies this year.

A group of Silicon Valley pros staged the two-day boot camp, dispensing their wisdom about how to snag investment capital, protect inventions from bootleggers and "create a buzz."

"Don't worry, be crappy," advised Guy Kawasaki, a former Apple Computer evangelist from Hawaii who now helps startups. "Revolutionaries ship their product first and then they test it."

Joe Costello, who has successfully launched several major Silicon Valley companies including Cadence, said his most important advice is to focus on the positive goal, and avoid fixating on the problems.

"If I'm flying along and there's the power pole, and I'm thinking, 'Don't hit that power pole. Don't hit that power pole,' then the next thing you know, Whap! I'm going to hit it," he said.

Other advice: "Twenty-page business plans are obsolete. Don't bother. Give the investor a two-page summary and a 10-slide PowerPoint presentation," said Steven Bengston, who sorts through hundreds of proposals each year at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Dr. Eric Witte of Harrisburg, Penn., said he came to "make the transition from pipe-dreaming to pioneering. . . . I have a fire in my belly and I'm getting old. I have a sense of urgency."

One of his ideas is to provide Internet users an incentive -- frequent-flyer miles, bonus shopping points, even cash -- to pay their bills online.

"At this point the online bill providers have the audacity to charge the customers. That's the wrong way to do it," he said.

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