Technology Makes A Comeback

Fizzling dotcoms were last year's news. Now, technology gets back to basics. B.E.'s experts discuss how you can find the capital to fund your venture.

those funds focused on technology, and that’s, again, just a sign of the times. But there are probably at least 20 funds across the country managed by people of color. It is important to note that venture investors here in the Valley have become much more inclined to finance venture-backed companies run by people of color.

WALKER: I think that it is real important to understand what networking can do for you in this kind of situation. First of all, you do have to work the seven degrees because you don’t know who is going to know whom. But the thing that you have to be most mindful of is you’ve got to give that person some substance. You’ve got to give them something to say about you to catch the attention of the person with the money.

B.E.: As entrepreneurs, when do you know to call it quits — whether it is selling the company, stepping aside as CEO or just saying, “This isn’t working.”

FOLSOM: You look at what is going to bring the best value to your shareholders. And it is having the company continue to grow. However, if it is going to continue to suck capital, it may be time to go.

With SeminarSource (and this is the third interesting opportunity we’ve had to sell), prior to getting financing I received two offers [while] we were going through our first round of financing. You look at where you are, where is your opportunity for growth, what is the best way for you to generate revenues and penetrate the marketplace. We looked at our ability to grow, and our ability to raise financing on our own. So for us [selling] was part of our financing strategy.

CADET: I think the ultimate model of knowing when to sell out is Mark Cuban of Broadcast.com. He got out at really the right time, but that’s kind of an aberration because of the dotcom frenzy. But I think it is also a function of what your competitors are doing. How well capitalized are your competitors, and what is the long-range prospect for your technology?

LOTT: That’s an interesting question because I think often the honest answer is someone taps you on the shoulder and suggests you need to consider that. Seriously.

WASOW: But that tap, sometimes, is a little harder than just a tap. The hard lesson I learned in my first company was I had three opportunities to sell, all of which I passed on because I thought something bigger and better was coming down the pike. And I was not making rational decisions. I was being kind of in love with the company I started, as opposed to being more mercenary.

B.E.: Are there barriers to entry for African Americans? How do we get beyond those barriers to succeed in technology?

BYRD: Venture capital, private equity is much talked about nationally, and certainly here in the Bay Area, but very few businesses that are out here today — if you look at the broad array of businesses — attract

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