ot every startup would turn away major funding, but that's just what ceo Dina Rosenberg did when a company wanted to invest a significant amount of money on branding her company, B2bdiversity, earlier this year.
"I told them that we didn't even know who we were yet," Rosenberg says, "and I refuse to throw money at branding when we needed to first understand exactly what it was we were delivering."
Today, Rosenberg is clear about B2bdiversity's role in the marketplace and confident of its success, in large part because she took the time to build a solid foundation consistent with traditional, Old Economy business models. "I think you have to have all of the traditional processes in place to build out successfully," she says. "I saw a lot of dot-coms throw bad money at worse money to try and make something work. If they had really done their market research, they probably would have found early on that they didn't have a play."
Rosenberg's motivation in creating the business stemmed from her own experience. "I owned my own business and I was working with big corporations, but I didn't know anything about supplier diversity. I was shocked to learn about this opportunity for people to tap into large corporations and prove themselves," she says.
In July 1999, Rosenberg launched B2bdiversity after raising angel capital to build the business model. She's now negotiating with a venture capital firm in order to scale up. When the investment funding is secured, the company will add up to 35 staff members. "I'm not a micromanager so I'll be bringing in key people to run key areas," she explains. "As a company grows, you have to learn to be hands-off and concentrate on what you do best rather than muddling in areas that aren't your expertise."
For now, however, Rosenberg is intent on sustaining a sense of unity and motivation among her small staff by keeping them abreast of any progress the company makes, including discussions with potential partners and customers. "Everything ties back to communications and to make sure that the verbal appreciation is there and is a constant," she says. "I make sure to let my team know that they are a vital part of the business and that we wouldn't be where we are without all of them."
One staffing area in which Rosenberg is passionate about is ensuring that her own workforce is diverse. "We need to live what we're building," she says. "It's going to be important that we have a team of people with diverse backgrounds and that we create a good culture of diversity."