Who: Stasia MacLane, 29, CEO and managing director, DreamLabs
Mistake: "Taking time to fine-tune a business model — when everyone else is running on Internet time."
Payoff: "Gaining a better understanding of what our customers — entrepreneurs — really need."
"So much of the Internet economy is about rushing to get a company up and going. There's this mentality that faster is always better. But when we started DreamLabs, a business incubator, we took the time to examine why we were starting the company and to think about how it could serve customers. That changed the course of the business drastically."
"Instead of setting up shop immediately, we spent about seven months interviewing four groups of people: angel investors, VCs, successful entrepreneurs, and would-be entrepreneurs. We found that the traditional incubator model, which offers services as an all-in-one package, was neither the most efficient nor the most beneficial approach. We decided that DreamLabs should act as a holding company for three separate units: a venture fund, a services company, and a tech corner. That way, entrepreneurs and VCs can use the incubator to fit their needs — without paying for services that they don't need."
"Conventional wisdom says that failing to get out of the starting gate right away is a mistake. But by pausing to gain a broad perspective, we came out with a stronger business model. The slower, old-school approach worked to our advantage."
A version of this article appeared in the February 2001 issue of Fast Company magazine.