Magazine article European Business Forum

Rollercoaster Rides: EBF Has Been Following the Fortunes of Dot-Com Businesses in Germany, the Netherlands, France and Sweden. What News from the Four Founding Entrepreneurs?

Magazine article European Business Forum

Rollercoaster Rides: EBF Has Been Following the Fortunes of Dot-Com Businesses in Germany, the Netherlands, France and Sweden. What News from the Four Founding Entrepreneurs?

Article excerpt

Finally, a breakthrough!

SamSari Education is an e-learning business based in Sweden.

A handful of weeks during September and October 2001 proved to be the most important in SamSari's history. Firstly we won Sweden's largest e-learning contract by partnering with a competitor. Following that, we signed two large contracts, one with Ericsson and one with Telia (Sweden's main telecom operator). Within a few weeks, we had signed contracts worth more than all our sales up to that point. So you can really call it a breakthrough. Now we feel confident of monthly profits over at least the next six months.

In my last contribution to EBF, I said it was time to join ranks with competitors and look at innovative partnerships. We achieved this, and it has helped us win orders. Up until now, SamSari has been too small in scale and weak financially to win the more lucrative contracts. But in cooperation with other e-learning companies we have managed to build a winning team. We believe that our competitive advantage lies in the fact that:

* the customers need our knowledge and content within managerial finance and business processes, and

* the customers want our pedagogy based on e-moderators, communication and blended learning.

With the first two to three contracts signed in such a short space of time, we found ourselves unprepared and now have much more work than we can handle. We are recruiting and looking at how we can manage our new success. It is important not to get bogged down in operations and delivery, which is what we have been doing up until now. We have to look ahead, promoting ourselves and building for the future. The way to evolve is either to grow organically or to grow through acquisitions. The choice of strategy will be a priority for us over the next few months.

Pia Engholm (CEMS alumni) is co-founder of SamSari Education (pia.engholm@samsari.com) www.samsari.com

Refocussing for the future

DoTank, based in Germany, provides a career network, online-community software development and mobile marketing concepts.

Starting your own business is a rollercoaster ride. You shoot up, you dive down, you scream, maybe even get sick, but you just want to ride again--for the experience.

In the last issue of EBF we explained how despite the market downturn we have diversified our initial business. We have utilised our community management experience, which we gathered setting up the online career community squeaker.net, we started to develop our own community software and launched the mobile couponing service SMS-Rabatt. In the summer of 2001 DoTank (www.dotank.de), which encompasses our three projects, was moving ahead in high gear--employing many interns and freelancers

(28 people in all).

We stepped-up development, relaunched the websites, designed first-rate promotional material, found new partners and had positioned ourselves to find new customers by the beginning of September Encouraged by our promised second-round financing we looked forward to an exciting autumn. It turned out to be far more exciting than we initially thought possible.

After the September 11 attacks the world wasn't the same anymore. Our VC wasn't able to provide the second round of finance that we needed badly. And our customers, namely recruiting and marketing departments in Europe's most renowned companies, obviously had other more pressing priorities than incorporating our services.

It was then that we realised the importance of having the right team. After identifying our key team-members, we unfortunately had to lay off a few people and cut costs where possible, most notably in marketing. But as a result we have been able to carry on with much more focus, determination and motivation than before.

After refocusing, squeaker.net was able to renew major contracts with our premium partners, L'Oreal and PwC, as well as finding new clients in Accenture and GE CompuNet. …

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