“Tacoma-based Internet entrepreneur Scott Bourne has started a new business to help high-tech start-ups bridge the gap from idea to launch. The firm, Scott Bourne Consulting Group, formally began operations yesterday in Tacoma and San Francisco.The consulting group provides advice to high tech entrepreneurs in accounting, business structure and strategy, commercial banking, launch and staffing, taxes, technology, valuation and venture capital. Bourne said they already have a number of clients.The group also has plans to debut a matchmaking service this fall to bring together high tech entrepreneurs and investors.Bourne is president and CEO of the Scott Bourne Companies, Inc., a collection of new media and technology companies. Other members of the consulting group include Mike Kitchman, the process guy, who helps balance projections with accountability in business planning; Shelly Gardiner, who works in-depth on business plans so they pencil out for venture capital firms; and Jason Betz, who handles technical questions, and ensures plans are technologically legitimate. A venture capital law firm is also lending their expertise to the group and its clients.The consulting group is composed of professionals in networking, marketing, design, usability, database structure, e-commerce, venture capital and Internet culture issues, Bourne said.To more accurately reflect how he is currently focusing his time, Bourne has sold his photography business to Karen Wolfe, a photographer who came to work for him nearly a year ago. This allows him, he said, to focus on the other companies he is heavily involved with – Scott Bourne Digital Imaging, Avatar Digital Media and the consulting group – which operate under the Scott Bourne Companies banner.The consulting business has grown based on demand, Bourne said. We have restructured to more accurately reflect how I spend my time and to better serve the needs of our customers.Bourne said the group’s consulting services are needed. Despite some recent setbacks for e-commerce firms in the stock market, he said Internet start-ups are being funded at a record pace. Still, many entrepreneurs don’t fully understand the world they are entering.Some entrepreneurs in Tacoma may have violated Security and Exchange Commission rules on selling stock in firms, Bourne said, while others have little or no understanding of how the venture capital world works, and some aren’t willing to invest realistic amounts of money to make their business plans fly.Bourne, known as an influential Internet pioneer, has been involved in many web firsts. He is respected as builder and co-founder of NetRadio, the first Internet-only radio network; as founder of First-TV; the webcast of the first motion picture made for an online debut; and other firsts. He said his experience can help guide entrepreneurs more successfully into the online world.Since I learned all this stuff the hard way with NetRadio, I can save them serious heartburn later, Bourne said. Most of them don’t know what SEC Reg. D is, or about 144 restricted stock or convertible preferred notes or participation preferences, etc.It means that even if they have a great business idea, the VC world won’t take them seriously and they won’t get funded, Bourne said. My job is to help them get real so they can reduce the time to money factor.Getting venture capital is more difficult to come by in Tacoma than in San Jose, Bourne said. There is money here, he said, but knowing where to look, and most importantly, having a good idea and knowing how to present it, are crucial to getting funding. And you have to know how the VC process works.The fact that some of these companies have not gotten funded has less to do with their location and more to do with the quality of their ideas and the methods they use to attract money, Bourne said. You get a venture capital lawyer and have them walk you in (into a venture capital firm). You don’t just walk in. Nobody gets in the door that way. Never happened. Never will.On the other hand, Bourne said that with the exception of San Jose, New York, and possibly Austin, Texas, no other place in the country has an advantage over Tacoma in obtaining venture capital.I’ve been on both sides of the fence, Bourne said. If they listen to me, I can help them. It doesn’t matter if you’re from Tacoma or Timbuktu.The group works on a fee-based structure, not a percentage-base, which keeps its advice objective, and in the business owner’s own interest. Bourne said he charges less for Tacoma clients than for firms outside the area. The reason is that he’d like to see Tacoma become technologically successful.Tacoma has got a chance to come into its own – for about a year, Bourne said. Otherwise it might be a chapter in its should-a, would-a file.But it might be very low-tech problems that could hobble Tacoma’s shot at success, Bourne added. Parking and the city’s B&O tax are two factors that may make or break Tacoma’s chance to succeed at being America’s number one wired city.We have the ability to grow small entrepreneurs into big companies, Bourne said. The bad news is it might be hard to keep them after they get funded.Leadership in city government is necessary, Bourne said, citing increases in parking fines in downtown Tacoma as an example of business unfriendly behavior. On the positive side, he said Congressman Adam Smith’s attention to technology issues is encouraging.Bourne, twice named to Websight Magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people on the worldwide web, said he has been approached for venture help since he began to be named in publications such as Forbes, Wired, and others.I used to give away a lot of free advice, but with the advent of Internet incubators on every street corner, it made sense to start selling my expertise, Bourne said. After all, I have six years of Internet business experience which is about as much as anyone.Bourne will be conducting a seminar, the Tacoma High-Tech Startup Forum, July 3, at the Vault Restaurant in downtown Tacoma. The seminar is aimed at high-tech startups wanting to understand the venture capital funding process or are seeking to raise money for a new high-tech firm. Visit the Scott Bourne Consulting Group’s website for information.”
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