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Colorado's Inspired International Internet Keiretsu.

Children's toys for inspiration. Teams of entrepreneurs. One-minute presentations to imaginary venture capitalists. Put them together, throw in some microbrews, give the winning team the Golden Mouse award, and you have the typical Colorado Internet Keiretsu meeting.

CIK was established in 1997 by Brad Feld, general partner of Softbank Technology Ventures. ("Keiretsu," dontcha know, comes from the Japanese for a "family" of affiliated companies.) The group has evolved from get-togethers at his Eldorado Springs Canyon house to bimonthly meetings alternating between

Boulder and Denver. Once exclusively for CEOs and founders of Internet companies, the UK recently created associate memberships for those who want to attend but don't have their own businesses.

The Brain Game also is new. "Each meeting will include an activity designed to promote interaction among randomly assigned small groups," said C. Maxine Most, founder of ARQ Business Solutions, a strategic marketing company for e-business. Most serves on the CIK board of directors and is its marketing chair. "The goal is to 1) take the members out of the realm of their normal everyday business minds; 2) create brief but intense connections among members that will facilitate networking and collaboration; and 3) create a fun, social environment."

And collaborations there have been. Interactive agency SpireMedia was formed after Mike Gellman, then president of Gig Media, and Paul Schrank, then president of Schrank Interactive, met at an early CIK gathering. (For more on SpireMedia, see this issue, page 52.)

Their next stop is New York, where SpireMedia is setting up an office. According to Gellman (the CIK member most resembling a snowboarder, which he is), "New York and Denver are about as similar as Tipper Gore and Puff Daddy."

Geilman's main competition will be bigger agencies such as Razorfish, Agency.com, and Organic, but he's not worried. "We have bandwidth. Plus, we're not bogged down with the endless process and project over-management characteristic of large organizations."

Denver-based TamTam.com has CIK roots, too. The company developed out of a CIK conversation between Jon Fetzer, treasurer of CIK and founder of TheArtifact.com, and Antoine Toffa, former president and CEO of Trip.com. What they discovered was a shared interest in international trade.

TamTam's purpose is twofold: to bring together international buyers and sellers, and to provide them expertise. "Our system allows vendors to sell their products and services either in an auction format or a fixed price format. Our goal is to assist with such issues as safety, security and ease of handling. For instance, we can help a service provider in Japan find an attorney in France," Fetzer said.

CIK company Interactive Papyrus also is poised to exploit its keiretsu connections as it moves into the Denver/Boulder area. The Colorado Springs-based business recently aligned with Englewood-based consultant Ciber Inc. While expanding its home office to 30 people, Interactive Papyrus is setting up a 50-person office in Interlocken and an office in Chicago. According to VP Lee Brown, "Our focus is on start-up ventures, strategic initiatives of Fortune 500 corporations, and companies in the business-to-business play." In each of its locations Interactive Papyrus is installing Sensoriums -- R&D labs designed to create intense interactive experiences

Kinda like a typical CIK meeting.
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Author:LAINSON, SUZANNE
Publication:ColoradoBiz
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2000
Words:533
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