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Summer 2000
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Williams 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."

Before 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?

"What 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."

Yet Seth 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 camper."

When told 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."

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