WPI Venture Forum: New Tech Companies Should Adopt 'Guerrilla Marketing'

Contact: Arlie Corday, WPI Media & Community Relations

WORCESTER, Mass. - If emerging technology companies expect to compete successfully with established businesses as well as with other start-ups, they need to adopt an "in-your-face" stance. So says Ameeta Soni, vice president of marketing at ChannelWave Software Inc. of Cambridge, Mass., and the speaker at Worcester Polytechnic Institute's Venture Forum, Tuesday, Feb. 15, at 6 p.m. in WPI's Kinnicutt Lecture Hall in Salisbury Laboratories. The program includes a business case presentation from Blackstone Technology Group Inc. Admission is $5 for members, $10 for non-members and free with a valid WPI ID card.

Soni advises new companies to employ strong market research even while operating on a shoestring budget, and to move at lightning speed. Her employer, ChannelWave Software, is the leader in Partner Relationship Management (PRM), a fast-growing, high-profile market. At Venture Forum, she hopes to educate entrepreneurs in the fine art of guerrilla marketing by emphasizing the strategies that boost emerging products, technologies and companies to the forefront in their field.

ChannelWave's PRM solution, for example, combines partner profile information with a company's business rules to ensure that the right people receive the right information at the right time. Soni has more than 15 years of marketing and strategy experience with technology companies. Before joining ChannelWave, she was president and founder of Altek Consulting, a management-consulting firm providing business strategy and marketing expertise to technology companies with a focus on start-up and turn-around companies.

She serves on the boards of the MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge and the Massachusetts Association for the Blind. At the MIT Enterprise Forum, she has developed a series of successful workshops for technological entrepreneurs. She earned an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago, an M.S. degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a B.Sc. with honors from St. Stephen's College, University of Delhi.

Presenting a business case will be Ron Ranauro and Michael Repeat of Blackstone Technology Group Inc. in Worcester. With more than 30 years of combined experience in the high-tech industry, Ranauro and Repeat founded Blackstone Technology Group in 1996. The company designs, builds and manages compute farms for engineering industries such as electronics, biotechnology and software development. Compute farms are rapidly emerging as a replacement market for technical, high-performance multi-user workstations and servers, a $5 billion market in 1997, according to International Data Corp.

The co-founders feel that Blackstone is uniquely positioned to meet the needs of the resulting compute farm market through its ComputeFarm Advantage suite of services, proprietary software and packaged hardware solutions.

Compute farms provide compute power for both large and small engineering industries. This innovation is a compelling alternative to mainframe "big iron" or high performance desktop workstations. A compute farm harvests the equivalent computing power of a huge, centralized mainframe or supercomputer, but maintains the freedom and convenience of separate desktop workstations for individual engineers. It is substantially less expensive than a centralized mainframe, can be scaled as more power is needed, can save costs on software licensing and, finally, unlike a mainframe, it provides uninterruptable, reliable power.

Blackstone is offering a value proposition that combines off-the-shelf components with enabling technology - the load management software - and enabling knowledge.

Peter Denyer, EDA segment manager at Sun Microsystems, said, "With their unique ability to equip companies with a well-designed compute farm in short order, Blackstone is at the cusp of an exciting business opportunity."

Ranauro and Repeat have developed proprietary branded products - SmartWatchTM - and services - ComputeFarm AdvantageTM - to meet the needs of their clients. They feel that Blackstone is uniquely positioned to apply its application knowledge and experience building compute farm solutions to be either the primary supplier, or "the supplier to the suppliers," of compute farm hosting services. With the prevalence of companies in the engineering industries "dot-coming" their enterprises, a huge opportunity to provide application hosting and compute farm hosting services will become available, according to Ranauro.

The panel reviewing this plan includes the following members:

  • Michael L. Demers brings more than 15 years of professional marketing experience in several technology sectors to the Venture Forum panel. He serves as vice president of marketing and program management at ProcurePoint.com, an early stage company developing an on-line, business-to-business marketplace for electronic components.

  • Neil Rodberg is president and partner of Venture Builders, an advisory firm dedicated to helping entrepreneurs build successful businesses and to providing investors with higher quality opportunities. In addition to providing strategic and managerial guidance, he specializes in the development of technology ventures and access to capital resources to finance them. ventures. Guest speaker Ameeta Soni will join Demers and Rodberg on the panel. For more information about Venture Forum, contact Sarah Ribeiro at WPI at 508-831-5075 or visit www.wpiventureforum.org.