Three companies

“Ted Ramstad, right, senior vice president of business development for Tacoma’s Essential Markets, talks with a guest following his presentation at the Tacoma Network’s monthly meeting. (Photo by Bonnie West)Tech folks whetted their appetites and their taste for investments at last night’s Tacoma Network meeting.About 70 people-from students to technology industry leaders-met on the 17th floor of the Washington Building to listen to three innovative companies compact what they do, and where their companies are going, into 15 minute introductory segments on a B2B platform. The first presentation was by Babak Ahmadi, chief technology officer for, an Olympia company that is tapping into the needs of travel agents nationwide. Technology is not always friendly to the agents, Ahmadi said. They are getting a class of clients who are very Internet savvy and they can’t keep up.Ahmadi said his company offers the lo-tech agencies, made up of 43,000 retailers nationwide, with a website and desktop product on CD. Not only can the agent promote on the web, communicate with their clients and work with suppliers, they can track all of their clients in-office; instead of keeping track of them and their likes and dislikes on 3×5 cards. Ahmadi said provides tools for agents to minimize time and maximize dollars, while benefiting the consumer, agents and suppliers who can communicate with each other.Supplier advertising pays for the’s product for travel agencies.Ted Ramstad, senior vice president of business development for Tacoma’s Essential Markets, discussed his company’s ability to enable small and medium-sized businesses to do business electronically.He noted that 90 percent of these businesses are not web-enabled, and that the same problem is repeated with their suppliers.Essential Markets, he said, links large suppliers to small and medium businesses with their software and consulting abilities. He said the company can connect suppliers online within 15 minutes, through a basic template already set up, as well as get their catalogues online.Ramstad said he believes the future for them means no more paper invoices, and a savings of money by having less inventory on hand.He also believes that the year 2001 will be the year for the suppliers, who will be taking advantage of the technology to get online.We have 10 global, leading-edge companies who represent critical industry sectors, he said. We can build in 32 languages and commerces by sharing our industry-specific knowledge and expertise. We’re empowering supply and demand.There is no fee for the service, Ramstad added. It’s done by a subscription model. Subscribers pay about $300 to 400 a month.The final speaker was Gary Doyle, director of investor relations of Free Markets, Inc., a company that Morgan Stanley Dean Witter went public with last year.Doyle explained to the audience that Free Markets, Inc., which is not a dotcom, provides on-line auctions for buyers of industrial parts, raw materials and commodities for eight industries: aerospace, automotive, consumer, energy, federal government, grocery and retail, high tech, and manufacturing.He said the company works closely with their clients, of which they have 64, identifying their area of spending, and finding and screening qualified suppliers for them.He explained that Morgan Stanley Dean Witter brought the company public on December 10, 1999, and that in 1999 they reported $20.8 million in revenues.In 1998, they reported a $7.8 million in revenues, so they experienced a 167 percent increase in one year.B2B will be much larger than B2C (business to consumer), Doyle explained, partly because of lessons learned and partly due to significant opportunities for business efficiencies.Buyers get uniform, predictable pricing with real-time information on availability, as well as better controls over their own procurement processes. Suppliers, he added, can plan production, reduce inventory and customize promotions for buyers and lower their order processing costs.Sponsors for the monthly event were Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, with Scudder Kemper Investments and Hughes Panagiotu, PS; and Web-X.Moderator for the event was Deborah J. Dodson, financial advisor, retirement planning specialist and Rule 144 specialist for Morgan Stanley Dean Witter. “