The entrepreneurial landscape of 2003 looks very different than the landscape of five or 10 years ago. Currently, I am aware of three separate (and unrelated) entrepreneurial efforts that are innovative and fill some very important gaps in the marketplace. At least two of the three entrepreneurial efforts have huge potential. In one case, the effort is aimed at a virgin marketplace that promises to be even bigger than the data warehousing marketplace.

In all three cases, there are no venture capitalists in sight. After the dot-com crash, the innovators learned that if you want to build a company that you can manage and control –­ and if you want to reap the rewards from vision and innovation ­– you want to stay as far away from venture capitalists as possible. The longer their entrance can be delayed, the better.

Venture capitalists are financial engineers. They may have MBAs from Stanford, but that says nothing about their ability to understand a marketplace or a technology. While all the dot-com era venture capital went over the cliffs, other legitimate technology innovators were starving. When all the venture capital disappeared, the non dot-com investments continued to starve.

During the mad rush to throw money into dot-coms, other technologies were hurt for lack of attention and resources. There were (and still are) plenty of technology efforts underway including: meta data, unstructured data, data warehousing and security.

Fortunately, today there is no shortage of new ideas, opportunity and products. There is, however, a real shortage of venture capital-backed companies. Under the circumstances, that is not a bad thing at all.

One of the real innovators of the decade is Kalido. Among other things, Kalido is able to build global data warehouses, something not heretofore possible. Kalido was in its fourth or fifth release before being approached by venture capitalists.

MetaCenter from Data Advantage Group is one of the most innovative products around. Data Advantage Group has gone successfully where other companies have feared to tread. It is difficult to bootstrap a company and remain competitive at the same time, but that is exactly what Data Advantage Group has done. In doing so, they bring a fresh, modern perspective to the world of enterprise meta data management.

Other new products center around the capturing and organization of unstructured data. Unstructured data is a wealth of data that has gone untouched by corporate systems. The ability to incorporate unstructured data with classical corporate structured data promises to open an entirely new usage of computers and information. Another arena is that of project management and configuration control required by large corporate information systems environments.

The age of innovation did not end when the dot-coms collapsed. What has changed is the way the game is being played. Today's marketplace is a lot slower because entrepreneurs must self-fund their projects; however, this ensures a real product with a real marketplace and a sound business basis, very different from dot-com venture capitalism.

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