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(June 6, 2001) "Imagine an open, online network of pre-screened entrepreneurs, senior executives, technologists, advisors, investors, and service providers that collaborate to build new high tech ventures." So goes the sales pitch for the "Founder's Forum" at StartupNetwork.com. The operation combines online and offline events, a view of corporate development and a job board in a seamlessly integrated business. Making no bones about their bias, they focus on the fact that they are in the Executive Recruitment business. But, it's with a 21st Century twist.

By combining events (ala Media Bistro), a working network of entrepreneurs (a la the old MBAFreeAgents), a discussion forum (like Craig's famous list), tight geography and a solid niche focus, we think the operation is the model of the next wave of things to come. Where rarecompany focuses on the operation as agent for the talent, the folks at StartupNetwork.com play both sides of the field, supporting the development of companies and the sourcing of executive talent. As we got to thinking about the process, it began to seem like venture capital without the money.

Maybe, that's the trick to understanding the next wave of innovation in our space. Once the technical infrastructure is complete (and those tech geniuses wander back to the dark air conditioned room they came from), the intersection of region and profession (or in this case, industry and region) will be occupied by entrepreneurs who understand that they are making investments in human and intellectual capital.

Take a good hard look at StartupNetwork.com. It's a model to remember. If we thought there was any life left in the stodgy old staffing industry companies, we'd suggest that it's a model for reinventing the branch office.

- John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

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