The capital connection
The Capital Connection Web site http://www.capitalconnection.com,
began as an online brochure and has grown into a successful business in
only one year. How did an ordinary, no bells - no whistles site succeed
so fast? Money? Skill? Luck?
None of the above.
A Web site starting as a casual way to "just get online" now
generates enough sales from their publications and the computerized matching
service to be profitable. Here is how it happened.
For ten years, Dee Power and Brian Hill ran Profit Dynamics, Inc., a
Scottsdale, Arizona consulting business seeking capital funding for clients,
creating tailor-made business plans for entrepreneurs, and coaching them
toward strong business growth. They brought in another partner, Rab Paquette
in 1997 to form The National Acquisition Network LLC.
One memorable day they agreed to create a Web presence.
Something simple, you know, like a brochure. . . . that way they'd have
a URL, would pay their monthly fees to the host, and get on with their
lives in the Phoenix area. They put nothing into advertising. In 1998,
it wasn't critical to have a major advertising budget . . . for a Web
Power said that if she were starting over on the Internet today, knowing
what she now knows, she probably wouldn't have attempted the site.
But she didn't know.
AUGUST 1999 GOAL: Design and upload a twenty page virtual brochure.
Thinking it would be a brief, painless process, the cheerful team hired
host and designer, Scott Temaat of http://www.sohoWeb.net
SOHOWeb Technologies. They began announcing the site's debut to clients
and colleagues in the Phoenix area.
Early on they decided that one of them would devote at least four hours
daily to the Web site: organizing, changing, experimenting, marketing,
and networking. They figured this would only be necessary during the startup
and that later the designated partner could get back to local business,
full time. Since Power was already active on the Internet and involved
with newsgroups, she was the logical choice.
- Design and Maintenance Power collaborates with Temaat,
who still handles much of the site design and maintenance, but sometimes
she impetuously whips out her HTML manual, and makes changes to her
heart's content. A most gracious person, she usually accepts all criticism
of her design errors.
- Networking In addition to design, Power now began
serious Internet networking, participating in forums, discussion boards,
and newsgroups. Much of her interactivity with other business people
on the Web results in change and growth of the CC site. Ideas spark
ideas, and she's a brilliant innovator.
JANUARY 1999 GOAL: Make the Capital Connection a one stop shop
for entrepreneurs. CC began creating new, effective business
resource links, and created new publications. They went against normal
business practice and not only linked to competitors,
but explained how these businesses work, as well as what and whom they
Are they foolish to advertise for the competition? "Perhaps,"
says Power, "but today we're known to have one of the most comprehensive
Web sites for entrepreneurs seeking financing and other related information.
While we welcome new business, we prefer that if prospects go elsewhere,
they go only to the best."
The CC newsletter, which had a healthy beginning in 1998, began growing.
Traffic to the site grew. Power continued to network, offering others
on the Internet a wealth of small business information.
APRIL 1999 GOAL: Personalize the site, making it much more interactive.
They determined to make the site a place where entrepreneurs feel comfortable
contacting a Venture Capitalist (or potential financier) and where they
can learn from respected experts.
"The Internet has lots of capabilities not available in the physical
world, and we wanted to exploit them all," Power explained. "By
now we had a successful newsletter with almost all articles and features
original and by selected authors. In fact, we're so successful that we
have a rich roster of contributing columnists and guest authors."
The semiweekly newsletter, dotted with humor and a certain
easy flair, delights and informs its readers about fiscal issues, effectively
running a small business, and a offers a small business site review monthly.
Because of the overwhelming response to the Q&A section headed by
Ms. Money, CC's staff published an entire booklet full of financial wisdom
carefully cloaked in frivolity.
What next? CC began a monthly live chat, usually with a special guest;
offers a moderated discussion list focused on entrepreneurs
and finance; holds a series of popular free online seminars;
and every week hosts a special event that usually includes a guest,
and either a survey, quiz, or seminar. They recently started
a comprehensive bulletin board to support needy, confused
Earlier in 1999 CC launched its annual Virtual Venture Capital
Conference, the first-ever online Venture Capital conference.
They advertised the conference widely, mainly through networking channels.
It offered entrepreneurs and investors a way to find each other and educated
entrepreneurs in the areas of finding capital. Because they nearly tripled
the number of daily visitors within weeks, CC integrated many of the areas
of the conference into its site.
The latest CC innovation is the onsite Cooperative Bookstore.
In return for a small bit of time helping to maintain the CC Bookstore,
authors of books, booklets, and software may advertise their publications
free of charge. In fact, CC not only links to the author's site or email
address, but provides space for photos and promos of the business-related
The CC team also spends time and effort in public service.
Shocked and frustrated at the recent tornado devastation of Oklahoma and
Kansas, they posted notices throughout the Internet, offering a free list
of Venture Capital companies for those willing to contribute to the Red
Cross in those states."We know of at least $3,000 given over a ten
day period," Power said. "The average was about $25. And there
may have been others who donated but didn't require the list."
They continue to develop goals beyond their simple initial expectations
as they gain knowledge and experience.
Dee Power didn't know what she couldn't do . . . didn't recognize
what was not possible. And because of the team effort in her
business, she had the luxury of time that sole proprietors don't enjoy.
But even if she were a sole proprietor, one wonders if she wouldn't still
have followed the same path, even if more slowly.
How about your Web business? Have you been able to put the imprint of
your personality on your site? Have you succeeded in letting visitors
understand your pleasure in serving them? Check out the Capital Connection
and study their offerings. And if you're new Web site owner needing a
business plan, go to CC's http://www.capitalconnection.com/freestuff.html
Free Stuff page and order a free business plan outline.
|About the author
Judy Vorfeld's operating system is Windows and her primary software
includes WordPerfect; Microsoft Word; Microsoft Publisher; Adobe Acrobat;
PaintShopPro; and Macromedia HomeSite. Please visit her website: http://www.ossweb.com
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