What was the biggest lesson you learned from the tech bust of 2000?

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:39 pm

Lessons learned:

“The key to success for start-ups, no matter what the economy is like, is maturity and knowing what you are doing.”
– Guy Mascari, director of development, Milwaukee County Research
Park and Technology Innovation Center, Wauwatosa.

“The ‘build it and they will come’ has proved itself not to be the smartest idea. Pay attention to what people need and build that. The Web isn’t this new mysterious thing. It is an every day thing for most businesses.”
– Neil Biondich, Jr., chief executive officer, Red Anvil LLC, Milwaukee.

“If there is a bust of sorts, there tends to be a ripple effect that can be both positive and negative. Obtaining capital to grow, whether from a bank or otherwise, becomes more difficult. On the other hand, when companies do go under, they release talent into the market which, during the high growth phase, may be hard to come buy. So, companies with a solid product, plan and management, could actually benefit from a contraction in the early stage tech sector.”
– Jim Rice, president and chief executive officer,
Information Technology Association of Wisconsin, Inc., Madison.

“If something seems like a ‘get rich quick,’ I say nine out of 10 times, it is false. You have to look at things carefully and make sure you have a solid foundation to your services offering and solid business plan and marketing plan. Some people got so caught up that they just jumped out there, threw out a bunch of money and ultimately ended up losing it all. I stick with my original philosophy that things need to be planned out. Look into things deeply, look at the whole picture and go from there.”
– Steve Belinkoff, chief information officer, Blue Vista Innovations LLC, Milwaukee.

“I think people today are more savvy. I think it was never the majority but there was a group of folks that were throwing money at ideas even if they did not understand (the technology). People look at things with a stronger business sense than they might have (before 2000). There was a certain sense that on the Internet some rules of business and economy were suspended and that proved not to be true.”
– Rick Fessenbecker, managing director,
Northwoods Software Development Inc., Brown Deer.

“The importance of having a solid business plan. The importance of due diligence. And I think a third (lesson) is simply that people are not falling in love with the technology alone. Right now, they are much more prone to get beyond the gee whiz factor and ask, ‘What is the market for this product.'”
– Tom Still, president, Wisconsin Technology Council, Madison.

“Ultimately, that companies built with sustainable value propositions will survive market cycles. Amazon, eBay, Yahoo!, Google and a handful of others demonstrated that they had something very real to deliver to the market, and that the market wanted to ‘buy’ (which in this case often means ‘use’). Those companies had strong leadership who used resources well to steer a strategy through the market downturn. Mostly, they had a strong value proposition that uniquely delivered value to their target customers.”
– Chris Shipley, executive producer of DEMO Conferences, Southborough, Mass.,
and co-founder of Guidewire Group, Las Vegas.

“I think a lot of people took away that really smart people can do some really dumb things. There were a lot of good lessons learned from that period of time. When I see businesses invest in technology today, I think they are doing a lot of right decision-making based on the return on the money and how soon.”
– Kelley Starr, president, Thin Air Software, Inc., Wauwatosa.

SBT reporter Eric Decker contributed to this report.

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