In The Startup Garden, Tom speaks eloquently about how the Internet has changed things for entrepreneurs. He also speaks frequently about future changes he sees on the horizon.
Since here at Small Business Trends we focus on (what else?) trends, we decided to ask Tom to share more detail about Internet trends and their impact on entrepreneurs and startups.
We will be posting a series of questions in 3 separate posts asking Tom for his views about Internet trends.
We’d love to hear your views on Tom’s trend insights. Please jump in and comment at any time!
Small Business Trends Question #1: What are some specific examples of the positive legacy the Internet bubble left behind?
Tom Ehrenfeld: On a macro level I believe the Internet bubble created a sense of possibility among teens and college students entering the workforce that entrepreneurship was a viable and achievable career path. A significant number of smart and industrious individuals were exposed to successful people who capitalized on a passion and vision based on the promise of the technology.
Despite the prevailing wisdom that the bubble has turned people off, I truly believe that its positive legacy has been to show the promise (albeit the peril too) of creating your own gig.
Moreover, I see some individuals who hit the jackpot striving to use the Internet to help others launch meaningful companies. In particular, the work of such as Bo Peabody and Matt Harris, who hit it big with Tripod, have gone on to use some of their proceeds to launch Village Ventures, a vc fund enabled by the Internet, that seeks to invest in promising startups located outside of the geographic hotspots like Boston or San Francisco.
Small Business Trends Question #2: How will the Internet help budding entrepreneurs make the connection between their personal life and their business aspirations?
Tom Ehrenfeld: I guess in a fundamental way the Internet has not yet helped individuals tap into the connection between personal aspirations and their business, at least not in a meaningful way that I have witnessed.
I think that the more that individuals can realize how their unique skills and resources and opportunities (themselves or combined with their founding team) can come together in a tangible way that delivers value to customers, the greater their chance of success. I’m not talking about entrepreneurship as a selfish quest for identity – but the need to pour what you know and care about and are good at into a healthy venture.
I do believe the greatest use of the Internet to date is one of marketing. I see many clever individuals using the Internet to create lively blogs and websites that serve as terrific forms of finding prospective customers, sharing company data, and simply helping create opportunities for success. To the extent these sites share personal or differentiated material from the founder, they help “personalize” companies.