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Startup Search

Having lived in the heart of the technology industry for most of my life, I have always had a soft spot for startups.

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LARRY HOOPER
Can be reached at (415) 947-6229 or via e-mail at lrhooper@cmp.com.

The entrepreneurial spirit, the exciting new technology and the unbridled enthusiasm are all very infectious.

For VARs, startups may not always offer the best channel support, but they are an excellent way for a solution provider organization to differentiate itself among its peers.

And the margin opportunity is substantial. The old "mystery equals margin" adage certainly applies in the case of most startups with new and intriguing technology.

So it was with this attitude of excitement that I went to the recent DEMOfall conference in San Diego. Despite having been a journalist for almost as long as there has been a technology industry, I have never attended this fabled event where journalists and venture capitalists watch a speed-dating styled parade of product demos from wannabe tech titans. I couldn't wait to expose a long list of hot new startups to solution providers and to welcome these new companies into the channel while they are still young and impressionable.

And then reality sank in. I get it now. PCs, servers and anything related to business IT is not cool. Think cell phones, text messaging, mobile video and social networking (or visit a teenager's bedroom) and you'll get a picture of what's hot in the startup and VC worlds these days.

Nobody wants to be the next Cisco, Hewlett-Packard or IBM. They want to be the next Digg, MySpace or YouTube.

That's not to say that some cool technology for those of us over 16 didn't slip through. Some of it even had a channel play. For one, a startup called NComputing is dramatically lowering the price of computing—while raising the margin for VARs—with a device that turns one PC into a system that four people can use at a time. Chairman Stephen Dukker, who was the founding CEO of eMachines, said the company already has partners overseas and is looking for partners here in the United States.

There were a few others, but they were hard to sniff out among the mobile jockeys and FaceBook wannabes. In all of it, one thing became clear: We can do more to bring those hot new startups with a channel play to the forefront. Stay tuned.

What's your favorite startup? Let me know at (415) 947-6229 or via e-mail at lrhooper@cmp.com.

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