The Love Fest At The George Washington University This Week


by
Elias Shams
As part of  the great initiative by the George Washington University to boost entrepreneurship in the region, their  School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) will host the third of the four SEAS Seminars on Entrepreneurship this week.

The main topic will be “access to capital“. The discussion will be topics ranging from getting an idea off the ground to accessing start-up capital, and will feature successful entrepreneurs working in many different fields. Here is the good part – the Awesome panelists I have personal stories with.

Starting with the first panelist, Marie-Louise Murville, co-founder, Noxilizer, who I met back in 2000 at the Morino Institute’s networking event six month after I had launched my first internet company, Telezoo. About a month later, there was a $3 million investment from her firm at the time, Lazard Technology Partners into Telezoo bank account.  :-) Soon after Lazard investment, Marie-Louise left Lazard for a VP of Business Development & Marketing position in Telezoo. :-) In less than six months of her employment, she structured our financial model and established strategic partnerships with the online media in telecom and IT space which significantly helped the company to generate over $1 million in revenue from Fortune 500 networking companies. Generating $1 million in revenue with only $3 million investment pre and post bubble! thanks to her great work, Forbes Magazine nominated us for two consecutive years as one of the top five B2B company in the world next to the names like Cisco.com b2b site.

Frankly, I am still trying to figure out whether I received the $3 million from her firm because:

a) Unlike the other internet companies, I was already generating  revenue which was an unheard phenomena in late 90’s.

b) The fact she knew I was one of the early employees and the project manager at Yurie systems worked on top secret (at the time) video communication systems from our Drone Predator to Pentagon which also helped the company to be acquired by Lucent for $1.3 Billion in 1998.

c) Or, it was just my natural Persian heat transmitting out of my flesh she had seen in this video prior and during our first face-to-face meeting while having our fourth margaritas  at the event :-)

If it was c, that would technically make me the most expensive gigolo on the planet. Now that ten years gone by, I guess it is time to finally ask her the question during  the seminar. :-)

The second panelist is the serial entrepreneur Doug Humphrey, the founder of the Web Hosting company Digex which was sold to MCI for about $180 million in mid 90s. Doug became one of the most active board members of my company for years. I learned a lot from him – in particular the ability to staying focus.

Doug later on raised a total of $200M for his Satellite company, Cidera. Although, Doug was already very popular in DC area and in the venture capital community, he became more famous for buying an ex-British Royal Navy Warship on eBay for $250K.

The third Panelist is Mark Walsh known as Mark D Man. I met Mark in early 2000 when his company, Vertical Net extended an offer to buy  Telezoo for a cool $20 million.  Boy! every time I think of his offer and how arrogantly I turned it down, I totally feel like an idiot. Well, I wasn’t really arrogant. I had my reasons. There were companies those days with no revenue going public with over $1 Billion market cap. I figured if those guys worth that much; given, I was generating about $1 million in revenue at the time, I should have been valued at least $10 Billion. I had not predicted the collapse of the telecom market which was our main source of revenue. :-(

Mark is currently Chairman and CEO of the local internet company Genius Rocket.

The fourth panelist is Dan Gordon with the local VC firm, Vallhala Partners. I personally don’t know Don, but I look forward to meet him at the seminar this week.

Event: SEAS Seminar Series on Entrepreneurship “Access to Capital”
Date: Mar 24, 2010
Time: 6:00PM – 8:30PM
6 p.m. Reception
7 p.m. Panel Discussion
Moderator: Lou Wagman SEAS ’64 Entrepreneur-in-Residence, NJ Institute of Technology Enterprise Development Center

Location:
The George Washington University
Funger Hall, Room 103
2201 G Street NW
Washington, D.C. map

If interested in attending, you must register
here. It is FREE :-)

Here are the videos from our last Seminar when I was one of the panelists:

You can watch the rest of the seminar here

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About Elias Shams
I have been a serial entrepreneur in telecom and social media space for past 12 years or so. I hold a M.S. degree in Telecommunication Engineering from the George Washington University and a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Maryland. I’ve lived and worked in many countries and cities including London England, Tehran Iran, Bonn Germany, Paris France, Alicante Spain, Delhi India, and my favorite of all Washington, DC of great US of A. Two of the greatest Washington, DC based companies I worked for and very proud of are Yurie Systems which was sold to Lucent in 1998 for $1.23 B and telezoo.com that I founded in 1999. I am currently the founder and awesomizer @ awesomize.me

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