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Who's Giving It A Go? 6 September 2000 Edition
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A while back I asked for those people who were working hard to get Net-related new economy businesses up and running to drop me a line.

The response was not as strong as I'd hoped -- perhaps there's a message for government there -- but I did receive some optimistic reports and I'll share some of them with readers over the next few weeks, starting today.

(Please excuse the gratuitous references to Eric Watson ;-)
Readers Say
an ex-FlyingPig responds - Ursula

Everyone seems to be making a fuss about - Dave

Have Your Say

Many of you will have seen this operation profiled on TV One's Telstra Business Programme and the various news bulletins that screened throughout the day yesterday.

It's a brave attempt by a small group of women who are trying to make a dent in the international market for needle-art using their Kiwi spirit and, according to the TV report, about $200,000 in investment capital.

I have to admit that quilting, applique and that kind of stuff isn't the sort of thing that one immediately associates with the Internet. The image of a group of Amish quilters huddled around a glowing screen trying to pretend that it's not really "technology" keeps popping into my head.

It must be said however, that the Internet is becoming a runaway passion of many in the age-gender group most likely to engage in this kind of handicraft -- so maybe these girls are smarter than Eric Watson?

Apart from a few problems with browser compatibility which I'm sure will soon be sorted, the site is reasonably effective at putting products in the face of prospective buyers. Good luck girls!

Here's another e-tail site which, while not "revolutionary" in its structure or concept, is a refreshingly different approach to connecting buyers with product.

Acting as more of a "product portal," the site isn't just another traditional online catalog and shopping cart. It isn't "in-your-face" with product offers and "special deals." There's some good information tucked away on this site and as such it's not a bad resource for would-be online shoppers.

Worth a visit if you're a shopper or an e-tailer.

Yeah, I know, I've talked about Cranium.co.nz before -- but this site really appears to be one of NZ's best Net success stories and they're getting better every day.

Last week marked the first sale to China and Richard Stockwell, the site's owner/operator says:

"I've sold CD orders to people in Africa, Europe including Russia, the Middle East, USA/Canada, Central America, Sth America, Australia and throughout Asia, although nothing yet to India. At last count I had customers in about 48 countries around the world."

"I've been selling music to people in Brazil for at least 3 years now and long before the NZ Government ever thought of opening an embassy. Also I have made my first licensing deal for one of the releases on my own in-house label to be released in the USA and this is due to come out on a Texan based label in the next few weeks. On top of this in conjunction with two European based people who live in Switzerland and Germany I am about to open a European agency for German speaking people to be able to place orders through these two sources."

Aardvark says: Take note Government -- this is the kind of business you should be encouraging so that NZ can get a foothold in this new economy -- why aren't there more Cranium.co.nz's out there and why aren't you doing something to ensure that there are???

Eric Watson and Flying Pig -- eat your heart out!

The Secret Of Online Retail Success?
So, why do small online retailers like Cranium do so well while the big, lavishly funded operations tend to founder?

How can it be that a business with millions of dollars at its disposal and the ability to mount a marketing campaign that includes TV, Radio, print and Internet can perform so poorly when compared to someone with a tiny office or maybe even operating out of their bedroom with a low-cost PC?

Well, having been through the full spectrum of impoverished one-man-band to well-funded venture I can say that the biggest problems occur when highly-paid managers get to play with money that's not theirs.

When you're a one-man-band working all the hours during which you can stay awake and scraping to find the mortgage or rent each month, you tend to be very focused and amazingly conservative in your use of what little money you have.

This tends to produce a business that is extremely efficient (for its size) and, surprisingly enough, has tremendous potential for profit.

Contrast this with the typical well (some would say "over") funded startup of a year ago which had the luxury of launching with a fat wad of investor cash.

Why work in a dingy little office or from your bedroom when you can afford to hire a swank office suite in the city? Why make do with that two-year old PC when you can buy a whole network of the latest and greatest hardware? Why work late on Friday night when you could be out clubbing and sharing your newfound wealth with the hotel proprietors of this world?

Commonsense seemed to fly out the window once cash came in the door and the mantra was "you've got to spend money to make money" was universally chanted from boardrooms everywhere.

I like the mantra of the *real* Net entrepreneur much better:

A dollar saved is the equivalent of three dollars earned

It seems that many of those crazy startups of a year ago are only now being forced to cash their reality checks and admit that, when it comes to calculating the bottom line, the Net is no different to any other business.

Success is no longer measured by the type of car the CEO drives, the number of staff employed, the plushness of the offices or the amount of money you can spend on advertising.

But the growing number of small guys who are doing "very nicely thank you" already knew that eh!

Eric Watson and others -- if you really want to invest in the Internet to make a profit - find yourself a handful of NZ's lean, mean entrepreneurs with good ideas and buckets of energy. Run with them. Don't just throw a thick wad of cash at a lame idea where the principals have little vision or understanding and no stake other than their salary and some share options.

Success on the Net is all about being FASTER and SMARTER than anyone else -- that describes our best cyber-entreprenuers perfectly.

If you're a Kiwi "giving it a go" in the New Economy then let me know!

As always, your feedback is welcomed.

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Copyright © 2000, Bruce Simpson, free republication rights available on request