of an Economic Transformation
made at Netpreneur events and recorded here reflect solely the views
of the speakers and have not been reviewed or researched for
accuracy or truthfulness. These statements in no way reflect the
opinions or beliefs of the Morino Institute, Netpreneur.org or any
of their affiliates, agents, officers or directors. The transcript
is provided "as is" and your use is at your own risk.
Netpreneurs Show Their Community Reaches Beyond
the Potomac at First Baltimore Meeting
2002 Morino Institute. All rights reserved. Edited for length and
(Baltimore, MD--June 12, 1998) The home of the Orioles, Fells
Point and the National Aquarium is also a hotbed of netpreneurial start-up activity. Charm
City's thriving digital age entrepreneurs showed that at the first Baltimore Coffee &
DoughNets, held last evening at Johns Hopkins University (JHU).
Featured speaker for the evening, Mario Morino, Chairman of
the Morino Institute, brought the message of The Netpreneur Program
to 170 entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and students. The action in the netpreneurial
start-up arena, said Mario, extends from the northern suburbs of Baltimore through
Blacksburg, Virginia. The entire region offers golden opportunities for technology-based
start-ups. It is rich in investment resources and houses big industries with a need for
communications technology development. Baltimores medical and biotechnology
industries are fertile ground for netpreneurs, said Mario and the evenings host,
Carey Kriz of JHUs School of Medicine.
Mario pointed to several indicators of the growing entrepreneurial
spirit nationally. People are dissatisfied with unrewarding or unstable work environments.
They feel let down by the big institutions that rule our lives. The communications
revolution, meanwhile, is making it easier to connect to others on a one-on-one, by-demand
basis that fosters individual initiative.
Unlike the Silicon Valley area, the Baltimore/Washington
regions netpreneurial growth is driven by content and communications more than by
software and hardware. The entry barriers, therefore, are lower. Technology entrepreneurs
in this region come from all walks of life and bring a variety of professional
The entrepreneurial spirit has changed little in the countrys
history, but todays netpreneur faces some new challenges, compared to entrepreneurs
of earlier years. Netpreneurs must embrace the fast pace of change and create businesses
that can adapt instantly to the markets demands. They must collaborate and surround
themselves with clients, employees and funders who are all partners and offer input. A
multi-disciplinary, "hybrid" approach, is emerging as the norm in these new
businesses, and focusing on and unearthing niche markets is a good path to success.
Audience members responded enthusiastically with their own call to
develop the regional community of like-minded netpreneurs and advisers. The Netpreneur
Program offered immediate help to Mark Cyr, a JHU undergraduate and co-founder of the
schools Entrepreneurial Society. He appealed to the group for help in brainstorming
Web-based business opportunities for the societys members. Mario and Penny
Lewandowski invited the Society to spend a day visiting the Netpreneur Program offices to
talk to the Programs organizers.
Greg Steinbach of Real Computing, attending a Netpreneur Program
event for the first time, underlined the value of partnerships. He said that his
Annapolis-based business recently found a partner among his former clients, whose
experience has led them to quadruple in size in the last four months.
David Troy of ToadNet, an
Annapolis-based Internet service provider, voiced a common concern, that it is hard to
find partners and like-minded individuals quickly in this area. Because of the speed
needed to capitalize on market trends, he wants to see networking and community-building
that will facilitate faster relationship-building. "Even if it means you bomb more
quickly and can get on to your next product development, thats a good thing,"
Program veterans contributed their success stories and offered
advice on resources, like the University of Marylands Dingman Center, that
Baltimore-based netpreneurs could use. Ross Stapleton-Gray of TeleDiplomacy found two business partners through
a recent Netpreneur Program event, bringing in much more financial backing for his
business plan. Tom White of The Sales Channel
said that he has formed strong outsourcing relationships through the "Talk the Talk" email discussion
Coffee & DoughNets regularly draws new attendees from the area
who have heard about the Netpreneur Program, but this month the program went global with
visitor Joachim Burvall of Swedens SecureNet AG.
The growing strength of the community was evidenced in the many
Virginia and DC-based netpreneurs who made the trek up I-95 to attend and meet their
Baltimore colleagues. Chris Metsala, Managing Partner of Falls Church-based telematique, even brought a potential business
partner from Florida with him to the meeting because "we wanted to get him to
understand how this area is different from any other," said Chris.