Byline: Giles Turnbull
Believe it or not, people are still starting up Internet-based businesses. These days, or course, they don't expect instant praise in the broadsheet newspapers, nor do their founders anticipate becoming paper millionaires within days of launch.
The new generation of dot.com companies are treading very carefully indeed, focusing from the outset on one very important business basic - profit.
20six (www.20six.co.uk) is one of them, created by a pan-European group of experienced entrepreneurs with a passion for the web. The product on offer is something different: weblogs.
The theory behind the company's business plan goes something like this, as explained by UK managing director Azeem Azhar. Back in the days of the last dotcom boom, there were probably no more than 50 weblogs anywhere in the world, and you could keep track of all of them quite easily.
But weblogs - very personal sites, updated frequently, and usually containing a lot of links to other sites - have become enormously popular. Now there are more than anyone can count (Azeem Azhar thinks there are three million in the US, and about 25,000 in the UK).
So it's clear that people like the idea of having a website to call their own, a kind of online diary that they can update as and when they feel like it. It's partly about personal publishing, and it's partly about joining a rapidly-growing community, since webloggers tend to find themselves communicating with, reading, and linking to other webloggers' sites.
The crucial bit is that, according to Azeem, five to ten per cent of people who start their own weblog end up wanting to make use of extra features, and are prepared to pay money for them. …