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.

venture capital financing. So it has always been a very, very high hurdle. I think today, given the times that we are in, the hurdle has been raised a little bit, but I’ll also say we have financed more new businesses in 2001 than probably in any year in our history. So, you know, I think that there are great opportunities out there.

FIELDS: Right now the whole technology sector is in a transformation. And those companies that know how to size themselves right — build the right kinds of solutions for business and personal use — are going to succeed. But there is a lot to overcome in order to accomplish that. As African Americans, having hard times and having to find a way to exist within a difficult environment is not foreign to us. And I think that those of us who are going to succeed through this time are going to be the ones that have fortitude and focus.

LOTT: I think technology is one of the fields that really in many ways is color-blind, which is an interesting thing to say. The reason I say that is because the bottom line, when you think about technology, is whether you can bring a product to the market that has high value. At the end of the day, if your product brings value, if your product can make a company more successful, I absolutely believe there is no reason that African Americans should see a barrier in getting that product to market. I think the opportunities that we need to have more of really relate to access to capital. That is an issue; it is an issue that’s changing. I think as we get more access, you will see many, many more entrepreneurs stepping up to the plate. There is no question that many of my colleagues are as qualified as any individuals I have worked with in running companies and being successful. That’s not the question. The question is access and opportunity, and there are a lot of great people out there with great ideas today. And I think we’re going to start seeing some real inroads on the part of African Americans in the technology sector.

WALKER: I would have to say that I can’t agree that venture money is color-blind. The money may be colorblind, but we don’t have the same numbers of access opportunities. The odds are not on our side to get into that environment where you can put yourself, and your idea, out there. So, networking it is probably more important for us, and we have to be really innovative about it because we don’t have enough natural opportunities to network and make that happen.

ADAMS: I think one of the errors of black businesses, in particular, is that we cater just to ourselves, or we cater to the market we think we can get access to. The global market is huge. One of the biggest excitements I ever had in business was my first trip to

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