Summer 2000 @ucla.com
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knew by age 15 that he wanted to be his own boss. By the time he
was 23, the Wharton School graduate had founded two successful companies
- including one with his mother called Revisions Grants Services,
which helps nonprofits obtain funding. More recently, Williams and
two M.B.A./M.D. candidates put together a business plan for an Internet
health-care venture called EasyDiabetes.com. The idea came from
one of his partners, who is a diabetic, and the plan won this year's
Haas School of Business Social Venture competition, a $10,000 prize.
They're now looking for seed funding and hope to raise between $200,000
to $1 million. "We have 17 million Americans with diabetes,"
says Williams, when asked why he thinks the company will be a success.
"We know how much money they spend per year. We have to bring
the audience on-line. The key difference in health care is we have
a captive audience."
coming to Anderson, Williams logged two years with Deloitte Consulting
in Detroit. Although the firm offered him a $105,000 annual salary
plus a $35,000 signing bonus, he turned them down to be CEO of EasyDiabetes.com
- a firm that doesn't yet exist. Given the recent plunge of the
Nasdaq and the shaky performance of other on-line health-care sites
like drkoop.com, isn't that risky?
is more risky for me?" he asks. "Is it to go out and depend
on myself, to use the talents and skills I have? Or is it a bigger
risk to work for someone who is not as competent as I am? I'm still
young. There's always a job out there. I realized a while back this
is what I wanted to do, so I'm not going to let the outside world
tell me I can't succeed."
Baum, who's witnessing the financial woes of several dot-coms firsthand,
has a far more pessimistic view. "Almost anyone who's joined
a dot-com that's gone public, their stock options are probably underwater
right now," he asserts. "It's a whole different ball game
than it was three to five months ago. If you're in it for the money,
you're probably not making any, and you're probably not a happy
that many Anderson graduates seem optimistic about Internet companies,
the Nasdaq drop aside, Baum snaps, "If the second-year M.B.A.
class is as smart as they should be, they're not evaluating whether
they should go to a dot-com. When they're thinking about it, they're
factoring into the equation whether their stock options may turn
out to be worthless, and that a good funding source coupled with
what seems to be a decent management team isn't a guarantee of success."