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Niche businesses either start with specific offerings for a discreet audience or carve out specialities within a broader base. Either way, entrepreneurs who operate niche companies must understand themselves, their goals, and their customers, in order to deliver marketing campaigns that are simple and effective.
Robin Li is the Co-founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer of Baidu, Inc., and oversees the company's overall strategy and business operations. Since founding Baidu in January 2000, Li has turned the company into
the largest Chinese search engine, with over 70% market share, and the third largest independent search engine in the world. In 2005, Baidu completed its successful IPO on NASDAQ, and in 2007 it became the first Chinese company to be
included in the NASDAQ-100 Index. Prior to Baidu, Li was already regarded as one of the world's top search engine experts. His hyperlink analysis, patented in 1996, is among the inventions that shaped today's search engine technology. Li
worked as a staff engineer for Infoseek, a pioneer Internet search engine company, from July 1997 to December 1999, and as a senior consultant for IDD Information Services from May 1994 to June 1997. Robin Li received a Bachelor of Science
Degree in Information Management from Peking University in 1991, and a Master of Science Degree in Computer Science from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1994.
Tactics for selling services are offered by an entrepreneur whose consulting firm places temporary senior-level talent in finance, law, and other disciplines in early-stage and growth companies.
Mike Maples, Jr. is the managing partner of Maples Investments, and is an entrepreneur in his own right. Before becoming a full-time investor, he worked in a variety of executive and management roles in high-growth
companies. His background spans a variety of markets including consumer technology, small business, and the enterprise, and he has served in various executive roles in product development, marketing, and corporate strategy. Mike began his
technology career in high school, when he started a software company that developed games and educational products for the original IBM PC. He has been passionate about the technology industry ever since. Most recently, Mike co-founded
Motive, Inc., the world's leading broadband software company in 1997 and played key roles in its growth from raw start-up through sales of $100 million. Motive was one of the only successful technology IPOs in 2004, and the most successful
infrastructure software IPO for the prior three years. At Motive, Mike was General Manager of Motive's Corporate Business Unit, as well as Chief Marketing and Strategy officer. Prior to Motive, Mike was responsible for worldwide product
marketing at Tivoli Systems, where he managed the company's product portfolio from its early-stage development through its 1995 IPO and growth to a $750M line of business within the IBM Software Group. Mike began his professional career at
Silicon Graphics, where he served in business development and product marketing roles. In his spare time Mike is an amateur artist, movie-maker, and calligrapher. He holds an Engineering degree from Stanford University, an MBA from Harvard
Business School, and is a frequent speaker at industry conferences and a guest-lecturer on entrepreneurship at Harvard Business School, Stanford University, Princeton University, and the University of Texas.
Understanding your industry, competitors, and customers is necessary for any entrepreneur. Primary research helps gather specific data, but secondary market research is also helpful. This article outlines fundamental, secondary research resources, which are either accessible online or at your local library.
An international expert in agricultural biotechnology and biopesticide science and business, Pam Marrone, Ph.D., is founder and former Chairman/CEO of AgraQuest Inc. which she established in Davis, CA in 1995. She
recently left AgraQuest to start Marrone Organic Innovations, Inc. which is focused on finding solutions to unmet market needs, especially weed control for organic farmers. AgraQuest researches, develops and markets environmentally
friendly, natural products for farm, home and public health pest management. Marrone's interest in this area began as a child, blossomed into a Ph.D. in entomology, and took flight in 1983 when she became head of the Insect Biology group
for Monsanto Agricultural Co. In 1990, Marrone became president of Entotech, a Davis-based biopesticide subsidiary of Danish company Novo Nordisk. She launched AgraQuest after Entotech was sold to Abbott Laboratories. AgraQuest discovered
Serenade, for controlling diseases of fruits and vegetables, and began selling the biofungicide in late 2000. Marrone and AgraQuest won the 2003 Presidential Green Chemistry award (small business) for the discovery and commercialization of
Serenade and a 2004 Red Herring Top 100 company award. The company also has several other products either in development or on the market. Marrone has raised more than $50 million through private equity investments to fund AgraQuest's
operations. Amid the post-September 11 stock market sell-off, Marrone postponed the company's initial public offering until the window opens again for new biotech investments. Marrone received a BS in entomology from Cornell University and
her Ph.D. from North Carolina State University. Courtesy of Hoover Institution
Mr. Martin joined Pacific Biosciences in 2004 as a seasoned executive with a 25-year track record managing leading edge technologies, new ventures, and high growth businesses. Previously, Mr. Martin was Chairman,
President and CEO of ONI Systems?a high-speed optical telecommunications company he founded in 1998 and took public in 2000. Named the Fastest Growing Company in Silicon Valley in 2001, ONI was sold to Ciena in 2002. After its sale, Mr.
Martin served as a consultant to Ciena, a CEO in residence at the venture capital firm of Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, and was a Director at Cloudshield Technologies. Prior to ONI, Mr. Martin was President and Director of 3DO?an
interactive gaming company. His earlier experience includes running desktop engineering for Apple Computer and founding Ridge Computers?designer of the world's first commercial reduced instruction set computing (RISC) minicomputer. Mr.
Martin received a BS in Electrical Engineering at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey. Mr. Martin currently serves on the Board of Directors of Pacific Biosciences and Infinera.
William McDonough is an internationally renowned designer and one of the primary proponents and shapers of what he and his partners call 'The Next Industrial Revolution.' Time magazine recognized him
in 1999 as a 'Hero for the Planet', stating that "his utopianism is grounded in a unified philosophy that-in demonstrable and practical ways-is changing the design of the world." Time magazine again recognized Mr.
McDonough and Michael Braungart as "Heroes of the Environment" in October 2007. In 1996, Mr. McDonough received the Presidential Award for Sustainable Development, the nation's highest environmental honor; and in 2003 earned the U.S. EPA
Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award. In 2004 he received the National Design Award for exemplary achievement in the field of environmental design. In October 2007, Mr. McDonough was elected an International Fellow of the Royal
Institute of British Architects. Mr. McDonough is the founding principal of William McDonough + Partners, an internationally recognized design firm practicing ecologically, socially, and economically intelligent architecture and planning
in the U.S. and abroad. He is also principal of MBDC, a product and systems development firm assisting prominent client companies in designing profitable and environmentally intelligent solutions. Mr. McDonough is a Venture Partner at
VantagePoint Venture Partners in San Bruno, California. Mr. McDonough is an Alumni Research Professor at the University of Virginia's Darden Graduate School of Business Administration, and Consulting Professor of Civil and Environmental
Engineering at Stanford University. He also serves as U.S. Chairman and member of the Board of Councilors of the China-U.S. Center for Sustainable Development. He is part of the Management Committee of HRH The Prince of Wales's Business
& The Environment Programme at Cambridge University. From 1994-1999, Mr
Doing business in the rough-and-tumble arena of underdeveloped countries involves adhering to global business basics, such as researching markets thoroughly, while coping with surprises, writes a veteran international entrepreneur who first took his company overseas three decades ago. In entering the "emerging markets," entrepreneurs need to keep close tabs on how (and if) they will be paid, as well as on local managers overly eager to make sales.
Going global is on the wish list of many U.S. entrepreneurs, especially given the sour American economy. But how to go about it? One leading venture capitalist offers some clues.
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