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Under the Radar: Starting Your Internet Business without Venture Capital Hardcover – September 18, 2001

7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

In an era when venture capital for a proposed Net startup is about as forthcoming as a politician caught in a sex scandal, Under the Radar by economist-turned-entrepreneur Arnold Kling offers timely advice on opening a new cyber-business without such big-time outside money. Combining experiences gleaned from his own self-funded (which he eventually sold for $85 million) along with examples of 25 other online enterprises also financed that way, Kling presents a practical how-to that readers with real ideas and realistic expectations could use to build viable Internet concerns, even in less-than-optimal times. Kling says there are still feasible niches for online businesses aiming between the $5 million entry level and the $1 billion minimum that satisfies venture capitalists--the "under the radar" zone of opportunity of his title--and outlines a route similar to those he and his other sources have used to fill them. One core suggestion does away with the traditional, time-consuming, and usually unproductive process of preparing and continually revising an extensive business plan; instead, he details a more effective program of 12 initial steps (developing the proper team, identifying a personal commitment threshold, recognizing operational milestones that will take you to the next level) that "netstrappers" can combine with internal and more modest funding sources to build a business that outlasts the next shakeout. --Howard Rothman

From Library Journal

This book offers advice from the founder of the successful web site, who built up that business and sold it (along with two related businesses) for $85 million. Kling recounts his experiences as a "Netstrapper" who created a successful enterprise without venture capital by looking to smaller target markets than those required by entrepreneurs seeking such funding. The characteristics of the Netstrappers, as described by the author, are charm, talent-scouting skills, the ability to stand up to the bar, the ability to focus, and a beginner's mind. Kling also describes the nuts and bolts of establishing a company, including writing a business plan, choosing a team, brainstorming, selecting a target market, and test marketing. Bibliographic citations would have been helpful in supplementing the numerous case studies, but given the current situation with dot-coms, this volume offers readers a way to build a potentially more stable company than those relying on venture capital. Recommended primarily for public libraries, though larger academic libraries should consider. Lucy Heckman, St. John's Univ. Lib., Jamaica, NY
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; First Edition edition (September 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0738204684
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738204680
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,858,097 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By William T. Katz on October 17, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a great book for the aspiring internet entrepreneur. There is very little hand-waving here as it's loaded with real-world experiences including an in-depth look at the author's idea-to-exit experience and 25 synopses on other netpreneurs.
Some of the worst dot-com manuals provide vague obvious advice like "know your customer" together with rehashed business plan templates, inadequate & technically misguided software primers, extensive discussions on acquiring funding through VCs, and advice on how to extract your fistful of dollars. Consider this book the antithesis to such "get rich quick" manuals. It focuses on real issues that should be handled while building a profitable internet business. The chapter "Planning Your Business" was particularly helpful with its twelve steps in starting a business. The book also provides refreshing contrarian (by dot-com mania standards) advice on eschewing VC funds and not necessarily avoiding markets where you don't have domain expertise. I'll definitely be referring back to "Under the Radar" as I build my internet-based venture.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 26, 2001
Format: Hardcover
The best thing about this book is that it's written by someone who has succeeded at the internet and yet kept his success in perspective. This is very refreshing given that the typical business/internet book is written by someone who has not succeeded on the net but thinks they know exactly how to do it. The book is very accessible to the casual reader yet substantive enough that serious practioners of the internet and business in general will find it highly instructive. The author has lots of interesting stories that help to chronicle the development of the net and how businesses have struggled to harness it. The book is somewhat textbook like in its explanation of key concepts but is never boring. It's very funny at times and always makes you think. It's like having a class with a good teacher. You enjoy yourself and learn at the same time. I highly recommend it.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 19, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book should be titled - "I got lucky with a web site in the '90s"
His title suggests that he has insight into how one could use true bootstrap techniques to get a company started. Yet, in one of his ten or fifeteen bullets about how to start a business successfully, he discusses the topic "when to line up funding". How under the radar is that?!
I would have been more impressed to learn that Mr Kling understood and articulated how to start a business using founding customers or how he worked the corporate banking system to gain access to lines of credit. I think Homefair was a great idea, but 99% of most net businesses today can not be started that cheaply. Same goes for the dozens of Web Design Firms he cites as success stories (Most were bought by companies like IXL, USWeb (Which became MarchFirst), Homestore and where all know where these have ended up.
I could continue about the lack of flow or organization in the book itself but I feel the description of lack of useful content is plenty for this review. I was truly disappointed with this book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Leonid Knyshov on April 7, 2003
Format: Hardcover
As a business owner, I am quite pleased with the information I was able to extract from this book.
It will not make you rich overnight, but it will explain patiently the unique challenges of starting and operating an Internet-based business.
Not all ideas are VC-worthy and this book describes the basic VC premises.
The case studies are quite in-depth and definitely will help you avoid same mistakes. The author does not shy away from early failures and fatal choices of wrong business partners.
In short, you'll enjoy the book and learn many things. I highly recommend it to any enterpreneur.
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