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Starting Your Own IT Company


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Title: Starting Your Own IT Company

Starting Your Own IT Company
  • Nathan Burk
  • Brian Middendorf
  • Sarah Middendorf
  • Vince Tuley
  • IS 6800 December 4, 2003

  • Entrepreneur Characteristics Overview
  • Class Survey
  • Case Study SSE
  • Case Study Internet Solutions
  • Case Study eBay
  • Conclusion

What is entrepreneurship?
  • A context-dependent social process through
    which individuals and teams create wealth by
    bringing together unique packages of resources to
    exploit marketplace opportunities.
  • This definition suggests that gaining access
    to a variety of resources and knowing how to
    leverage them creatively are two core
    entrepreneurial functions.

IT Entrepreneur Statistics
  • 30 of business start-ups survive more than 5
  • Every year, approximately 1million people take
    action to start a new business.
  • Only half of these people start a company and
    only half of those companies survive.
  • 98 remain small with low revenues and few
  • 90 of failed businesses did not have a written
    business plan.

Causes for Business Failure
  • Lack of Skills
  • Sales Problems
  • Financial Control
  • Lack of Funds
  • Marketing Issues

Entrepreneurs vs. Dreamers
More than half of Americans polled dreamed of
owning their own company some day, while 10
already have a business, and a third have no
interest in stepping out on their own.
Why do IT entrepreneurs start their own
  • Family history
  • . . . the entrepreneurial instinct was in my
    genes . . . - Dan Bricklin, inventor of the
    first electronic spreadsheet and entrepreneur who
    started four companies
  • A way of achieving goals
  • I also became an entrepreneur because I felt
    like I couldnt achieve my goals through any
    other means. Dan Bricklin
  • To have a better environment for creativity
  • Studies often show that significant innovative
    technology comes primarily from entrepreneurs and
    small businesses rather than larger business.

Why do IT entrepreneurs start their own
  • Desire to contribute to society
  • We are not passive observers but active
    participants in making the world a better place.
    That sense of individual responsibility the
    need to ask, How will I participate? Dan
  • To combine learned skills and passions
  • There had to be a profession that would
    merge his Ron Antinoja passion for learning
    systems and baseball statistics . . . Today
    Antinojas young company, Tendu, is aiming to
    develop software for . . . Major-League

Do you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur?
  1. Are you comfortable stretching the rules?
  2. Are you prepared to make powerful enemies?
  3. Do you have the patience to start small?
  4. Are you willing to shift strategies quickly?
  5. Are you a closer?

Have you thought about being an
entrepreneur?Lets take a survey . . .
  • Which best describes you?
  • A) You are someone that others look to for ideas
    when starting a new project.
  • B) You are someone that can be counted on to
    finish a project for your boss.

  • If there is a disagreement between two people at
    work, would you rather . . .
  • A) Help them come to a compromise.
  • B) Be content to let them work it out on their

  • If you are in disagreement with someone, are you
    more likely to . . .
  • A) Communicate your feelings to convince them to
    agree with you.
  • B) Quickly compromise to keep the relationship

  • If you had an extra 1000 to invest in the stock
    market, would you . . .
  • A) Invest in a speculative start-up stock?
  • B) Invest in a blue-chip stock or bond?

  • What really gets your adrenaline pumping?
  • A) Conceiving an idea for a project.
  • B) Planning and completing a project.

Characteristics of Successful IT Entrepreneurs
  • Leadership Skills?
  • Management Traits?
  • Passion?
  • Risk Taker?
  • Creative/Innovative?
  • Planning?
  • Marketing?
  • Need for achievement?
  • Timing?
  • Luck?

Case Studies
Susan S. Elliott- SSE Inc.
Elliotts Background
  • Born in St. Louis, MO in 1937
  • Married with two daughters,
  • Katherine and Elizabeth
  • Education Smith College,
  • BA in American Studies

Elliotts Background
  • 1958 - Graduates from Smith College and is hired
    by IBM as a systems analyst
  • 1966 - Becomes pregnant and is required by IBM to
    start maternity leave after 6 months
  • 1966 - Incorporates SSE, starts programming for
    First National Bank and has her first daughter
  • 1969-1973 - Relocates several times, continues
    consulting, and has her 2nd daughter Elizabeth
  • 1983 - Attends her 25th reunion at Smith College
    where she wins an IBM PC at auction

Elliotts Character Traits
  • Driven
  • Passionate
  • Tenacious
  • Stubborn
  • Motivated
  • Committed
  • Hard-Working
  • Possessing High Integrity

SSE Services
  • SSE is an Information Technology Solutions
    Provider with nearly 20 years of experience
    delivering application development, network
    design, eLearning, computer training, and
    technical staffing services. By bringing together
    the best of business, people and technology, we
    develop solutions that empower and enable new
    levels of performance across the enterprise. Our
    goal is to measurably and substantially improve
    your business.

SSEs Mission and Vision
  • Mission - We create value for our clients by
    applying Information Technology to solve their
    business challenges.
  • Vision - By building on our values and blending
    our services to deliver complete IT solutions,
    SSE will see significant revenue growth with
    sustainable profits.

SSE Profile
  • Privately held
  • 40 Employees
  • 10 Million annual revenues
  • 5-Time Winner of the St. Louis Regional FAST 50
    Technology Award
  • Ranked 2nd largest software training company in
    the 2001 Book of Lists

How was SSE funded?
Susans husband was a successful attorney.
He was able to support them financially, which
allowed her to put all of her earnings back into
the company. She did not initially take a salary.
How did SSE acquire customers?
  • Elliott attached herself to well known companies
    to help pull SSE through
  • IBM Example
  • Educational Opportunities
  • Ladue School board contacted her about teaching
    computer classes -- She traded training for
    advertising space in the school directory.
  • Direct Sales

Success Factors
  • SSE developed and maintained 3 core competencies
    at a time when many other companies were focusing
    on just 1 area. This ensured their survival
    during tough times.
  • 3 Core Competencies
  • Infrastructure
  • Application Development
  • Learning
  • Elliott hires only the most talented and skilled
    employees. In the last few years, she has not
    been familiar with the latest technology, but she
    makes sure her employees are.

  • Rapid change in the industry
  • Deciding what type of software to use -
    mainstream or client-specific
  • Challenges common to women werent as much as
    difficult for her. She leveraged the opportunity
    and used it to her advantage.
  • Recessions and slowdown of spending on technology

Lutheran Church Missouri SynodMallinckrodtMaritz
MasterCard International, Inc.MetaPhaseMissouri
Botanical GardenMonsantoMortgageBid.comPharmac
ia PremcorQwest CommunicationsRalcorpRalston
Purina CompanySmurfit StoneSolutiaSouthwestern
BellSSM Health CareStLouisBestJobs.comUnity
Health PlansU.S. Army
  • Anheuser-BuschArch Coal Inc.Arthur J.
    Gallagher CompanyAstarisBJC Health
    SystemBKDBlish-MizeBoeingBridge Information
    SystemsCharter CommunicationsCitiMortgageDot
    Foods, Inc.
  • Drury InnEmerson Electric Co.Enterprise
    Rent-a-CarFisher RosemountGeneral
    AmericanHaystack ToysHOKIndoffInner Circle

Susan S. Elliott
  • "Excellence - technically, professionally, and
    personally - means continuously bringing value to
    our client relationships we must conduct
    ourselves with impeccable integrity in all
    aspects of our work life. To that end, we commit
    our full support to our employees and their
    future with SSE.
  • Impeccable integrity is absolutely essential.
  • When the customers are demanding the very
    latest technology, you have to be able to
    deliver what your sales reps are selling. And if
    you cant, youre not going to survive.

Brad Suddath - The Internet Solution
Suddaths Background
  • Born in Springfield, Mo 1978.
  • Lived in Mt. Vernon, MO.
  • Lived on farm. Disliked farm chores.
  • Attended a high school with only 400 students.
    There were limited activities
  • Spent time playing sports and reading
  • Graduated high school in 1996. Ready to leave
    the small town.
  • Started University of Missouri - Columbia.
  • Possessed an Entrepreneurial Spirit through

Suddaths Background
  • Started a car dealership with roommate in
  • Obtained necessary certification to attend
  • Involved with on campus activities
  • Delta Sigma Pi
  • Graduated Summa Cum Laude, December 2000, Finance
    Real Estate.
  • Excelled in academics and on-campus activities
  • Invited to do an assistantship through the MBA
  • During the MBA program, started independently
    studying IT.
  • Thought IT was fascinating.
  • Enhanced Technical skills and built sites for
  • Started bidding on small projects as a side job.

Suddaths Background
  • Devoted long hours to the design process.
  • In time, the process became tedious.
  • Envisioned coordinating projects.
  • In 2000, the Bubble was bursting.
  • Believed in his own potential.
  • Started networking with programmers overseas.
  • Began outsourcing web site design to Canada,
    Russia, and India.
  • Low cost of labor enabled high returns.
  • 2,000 project, outsourced and completed for

The Internet Solution Services
  • Incorporated early 2001
  • Privately Held
  • Web Site Design
  • E-Commerce hosting
  • Content Site Management
  • Store Front and Shopping Cart

The Internet Solution
  • Recently profit margins have decreased
  • Restructured to offer a package deal at a low
    monthly rate.
  • Auctions projects to overseas technical doers.
  • Posts jobs to a virtual auction room
  • Programmers competitively bid
  • Project awarded to best sample and price

The Internet Solution Profile
  • 2 Employees with the company.
  • Suddath and a database manager
  • Hiring 2-3 individuals that will add value
  • Revenues Low 6 Figures
  • Profitability Profitable enough to justify not
    working for someone else

How was the Internet Solution funded?
  • The Internet Solution was self-funded.
    Suddath paid 5,000 for software design.

  • Financial Uncertainty
  • Social Interactions
  • In the corporate world, your part is defined and
    you have a sense of certainty. In the corporate
    world, when you are assigned a project, the
    project could generate significant value to the
    company, however, your reward has already been
    defined. In the entrepreneur world, you are the
    puzzle, and you are fitting the pieces together.
  • Referenced Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand
  • Dagny Taggart has a mind of her own and stakes
    her future on her own judgment.
  • Suddath believes he can create something
    prosperous and successful.

Suddaths Character Traits
  • Hardworking
  • Decisive
  • Innovative
  • Ambitious
  • Open-minded

How did The Internet Solution acquire customers?
  • word of mouth
  • referrals
  • mass advertising
  • pay-for- performance search
  • 1.1 Billion in 2002, expected to be 4.3 Billion
    in 2008. 6

  • Great Falls Swim and Tennis Club
  • Wild Rush Seafood
  • M S Enterprises
  • Loose International Inc.
  • American Coach Company

Pierre Omidyar
Omidyars Background
  • Born in Paris, France to an Iranian couple who
    moved the family to the US when Pierre was 6.
  • First programming experience was developing a
    card catalog system for the school library while
    in high school
  • B.S. in Computer Science from Tufts University in
  • Started career working as a developer for Claris,
    a subsidiary of Apple Computer, shortly after

Omidyars Background
  • Co-founded Ink Development in 1991, which was
    later named eShop and purchased by Microsoft.
  • Joined General Magic in 1991 as a software
  • Created eBay in September 1995
  • -Pez Story

Omidyars Background
  • Created eBay in September 1995
  • Incorporated eBay in May 1996
  • Left General Magic in mid-1996 to work on eBay
  • Ranked 2 on Fortune magazines 40 richest under
    40 in the Sept. 2001, 2002, and 2003 issues.

Omidyars Personality
  • Answers to these questions as of 10/9/01 per WSJ
  • Current Reading Dalai Lama, An Open Heart
    Robert Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land,
    uncut version.
  • Favorite Tech Gadget TiVo
  • Trip He Would Like to Take Gotta go to Space
    Campbeen wanting to go there since I was 15.
  • Favorite Item bought on eBay Pez bride
    dispenser for my wife as a wedding present.
  • Favorite Item sold on eBay Broken laser
    pointer, sold as-is broken for 14.
  • Hobbies/Sports Racquetball, reading, backgammon

eBay Profile
  • Headquartered in San Jose, California
  • Publicly held company- traded on the Nasdaq under
    ticker EBAY- currently trades at 55.89 and had a
    21 stock split on Aug. 29, 2003
  • Online person to person trading community.
  • Buyers can browse and bid on auctions free of
  • Sellers are charged in a few different ways
  • Insertion fee - between 0.30 - 3.30
  • Additional listing fee - optional
  • Final value fee - 1.25 - 5 of final sales price
  • eBay notifies buyer and seller at end of a
    successful auction and buyer and seller finish
    transaction independently of eBay.

How was eBay funded?
  • Omidyar sold Ink Development to Microsoft as
    eShop and became a millionaire
  • eBay was immediately profitable which helped fund
    itself and require only one round of venture

Success Factors
  • Immediately profitable
  • Self-sustaining system
  • Using suggestions of customers
  • Feedback Forum
  • Partnerships formed with large companies such as
    AOL, Sun, Disney, and General Motors

  • Competition (Yahoo Auctions, Amazon, City
  • Buyer and Seller comfort
  • Transition of new management

5 Essential Values used to start eBay
  • We believe people are basically good.
  • We believe everyone has something to contribute.
  • We believe that an honest, open environment can
    bring out the best in people.
  • We recognize and respect everyone as a unique
  • We encourage you to treat others the way that you
    want to be treated.

Jeff Skoll
  • MBA from Stanford University
  • BS from University of Toronto
  • Co-founded eBay
  • Brought on to solidify the business foundation
  • First President and full-time employee of eBay
  • Left company in 1999 to found Skoll Foundation
  • Ranked 3 on Fortune magazines 40 richest under
    40 in the Sept. 2001 and 2002 issues and 4 in
    the 2003 issue.

Meg Whitman
  • MBA from Harvard Business School in 1979
  • BA in Economics from Princeton in 1977
  • Brought on by Omidyar and Skoll in 1998 to
  • be President and CEO
  • Known for her ability in brand building
  • Worked for companies such as Hasbro, Disney,
    Keds, and Proctor Gamble

Income Statement
2003 estimated based on first 3 quarters actual
Sample List of Clients
  • Nathan Burk (sold Mike Matheny bobblehead for
  • Brian Middendorf (bought 300 motorcycle jacket
    for 150)
  • Sarah Middendorf (bought 2 vintage posters for
  • .

Case Studies Vs. Research
Leadership Skills
  • Our case studies show that while leadership is an
    important characteristic for IT entrepreneurs, it
    is not always essential for success, as in the
    case of Omidyar.
  • "Those who can lead not just in one environment
    but in multiple, changing environments over time
    are the really spectacular leaders. - Roger
    Conway, manager at the Center for Creative
    Leadership in Greensboro, N.C

Management Traits
  • Our case studies show that management traits are
    not essential for IT entrepreneurs.
  • Successful IT entrepreneurs hire good managers to
    run their companies.
  • Example of Elliots recent hiring of President
    for future growth of SSE.
  • Example of Skoll and Whitman from eBay.

Do Founders make the best CEOs?
  • More often than not, founders are not the best
    CEOs of their companies.
  • Its abnormal to have the guy from Day One who
    has the ability to grow and morph. Chad Waite,
    OVP Venture Capital partner
  • In 200 or so companies he Dick Strayer,
    start-up consultant has advised, fewer than 40
    of the founder-CEOs made it past the second round
    of venture financing.

Do Founders make the best CEOs?
  • Mr. Strayers job is to help founder-CEOs see the
    difference between 1) their job and 2) the
    investment in the start-up. He also performs a
    gap analysis between the founders management
    skills and the skills necessary to make the
    company successful. Some can close the gap.
    Many cant.
  • Even today at Trellix, the company I founded . .
    . , my title isnt president or chief executive
    officer. Its chief technology officer, a role I
    planned to hold from the very beginning . . .
    sometimes founders have to forgo the CEO title
    for the sake of the business. - Dan Bricklin

  • All 3 entrepreneurs profiled exhibit passion.
  • Entrepreneurs work long hours. Vacations are not
    often needed.
  • Example of Michael Dell.
  • More passionate about his business then
    socializing as far back as high school
  • Dropped out of college.
  • Why have I survived all of these years? One,
    Im having fun. Two, I think Ive always
    approached my job by asking what the company
    needs to be successful. Whatever it is, Im
    going to do it. Michael Dell

Risk Taker
  • Our case studies have not conclusively shown that
    IT entrepreneurs are bigger risk takers than
    other business professionals.
  • Palich and Bagby said, Entrepreneurs do not
    necessarily embrace risk-taking more than
    non-entrepreneurs rather, they tend to view
    risks more optimistically and are thereby more
    willing to undertake entrepreneurial efforts.

  • All 3 entrepreneurs profiled exhibit creativity
    and innovation.
  • Important to have the ability to produce
    solutions in new situations. Attributes attained
    through experience and training.

  • All 3 entrepreneurs profiled used effective
    planning in developing their business models.
  • Getting started might be easy, but long-term
    success depends on changing with technical and
    market conditions while remaining true to the
    original mission.
  • Entrepreneurs create value by combining
    resources to exploit an opportunity.

  • Our case studies show that marketing is not
    essential to be a successful IT entrepreneur.
  • Entrepreneurs may need to ensure that a certain
    amount of marketing competence exists in the
    company before introducing a new product or idea.
  • Need to understand products, services, and ideas
    do not sell themselves.

Need for Achievement
  • In all 3 case studies, the entrepreneurs
    possessed the need for achievement.
  • Entrepreneurs want to complete tasks that involve
    a sense of accomplishment.
  • Example of Elliott wanting to work after she had
    to leave IBM.

  • In 2 of the case studies, timing contributed to
    the success of the entrepreneur.
  • Economic Timing studies show that firms are
    more likely to succeed during an expansion
  • Product/Service Timing Firms that select
    products/services in the growth stage are more
    likely to succeed.

  • In all three case studies, luck contributed to
    the success of the entrepreneur.
  • Chance occurs more frequently than one may think
    in the entrepreneurial process.
  • Chance may occur in all stages of the
    entrepreneur process both positively and

Entrepreneurial Characteristics from Recent
  • Recognize (as opposed to seeking)
  • Exhibit their most risk-averse behavior when
    they are either in control of their venture but
    lack market skill, or without control of the
    venture but have technical skill.
  • Proactive personalities, scan for opportunities,
    show initiative, take action, and persevere until
    they reach closure by bringing about change.
  • Time from start of business to delivery of
    product is often quicker for IT start-ups than
    for other start-ups.

  • Feel in Control of their Destiny
  • Believe they can make a difference.
  • Have extreme amounts of determination.
  • Focus for long periods of time on making the
    idea, product, or service a success.
  • Example of Akio Morita, Founder of Sony
  • America said it would be impossible to sell under
    the name Sony.
  • Morita invested millions in an American
  • Succeeded when most thought he would fail.

Resources available for start-ups
  • Government aid
  • States are setting up programs to nurture
    entrepreneurs with the zeal they used to reserve
    for courting the Fortune 500.
  • Small business incubators
  • Nationally, about 80 of new businesses fail in
    their first five years, but in this incubator
    (City Venture in Charleston, SC) about 87 have
    so far survived.
  • Venture Capital money

Proactive Personality Profile
  1. I enjoy facing and overcoming obstacles to my
  2. Nothing is more exciting than seeing my ideas
    turn into reality.
  3. I excel at identifying opportunities.
  4. I love to challenge the status quo.
  5. I can spot a good opportunity long before others

Many IT Entrepreneurs top the 40 Richest under 40
  • Michael Dell, Dell Computers, Net Worth 17.12
  • Pierre Omidyar, Ebay, Net Worth 7.06 billion
  • Jeff Bezos,, Net Worth 4.85 billion
  • David Filo, Yahoo, Net Worth 1.45 billion
  • Jerry Yang, Yahoo, Net Worth 1.28 billion

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    October 2003, p. 36
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