Advice for new businesses: Define niche, remain focused, ISU alumnus says

November 8 2007

Start-up businesses must define their position in the marketplace and remain focused in order to be successful, keynote speaker Jan Eglen said during an Entrepreneurial Day program Wednesday (Nov. 7) at Indiana State University.

Eglen, an Indiana State graduate whose career has included hovercraft manufacturing, a stint with former aerospace contractor McDonnell-Douglas Corp. (now Boeing) and a longtime psychology practice in Terre Haute, is chairman of the board and co-founder of Digonex Technologies Inc.

Eglen is executive-in-residence at the Terre Haute Innovation Alliance, an economic development partnership between Indiana State, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, the city of Terre Haute and the Indiana Economic Development Corp. Launched at Rose-Hulman Ventures in Terre Haute, Digonex (short for Digital Online Exchange) is now based in Indianapolis.

“You’ve got to very quickly define what your niche is and that niche has to be one where you can articulate what differentiates you from everybody else,” Eglen said. And once identifying that niche, entrepreneurs must stay focused on that niche, he said, acknowledging that “this is very hard to do.”

The niche for Digonex is a patented “dynamic pricing model” that adjusts prices in response to supply and demand. You may think gas stations change prices quickly but, to hear Eglen explain it, Speedway has nothing on Digonex.

“We can re-price hundreds of thousands • if not a million items • in a very short time • a few seconds. We can change prices on the Internet and in stores at the same time,” he said. “In times of high demand, our pricing optimizes profitability or revenue. In times of low demand, we stimulate sales by bringing buyers back into the market-place.”

To enhance the opportunities for success, Eglen said, entrepreneurs must gather business intelligence via blogs, podcasts and magazines; learn their 30-second “elevator speech” to describe their business and its value proposition to customers; identify a way to distribute their product; and develop an exit strategy for a successful venture via licensing of technology, merger, acquisition or public stock offering.

Eglen, a Seymour native, holds four degrees from ISU: a bachelor’s in pre-medicine, a master’s in psychology and a master’s in life sciences, and a Ph.D. in counseling psychology.

ISU’s Center for Business Support and Economic Innovation hosted the Entrepreneurial Day program in conjunction with an open house at the center, located in the university’s John T. Myers Technology Center.

The open house provided the Wabash Valley business community with a chance to learn more about the center and the Terre Haute Innovation Alliance, both of which were launched within the past six months.

The Center for Business Support and Economic Innovation works with ISU faculty and staff from all areas of the university to assist new business ventures in preparing business plans and start-up activities.

The Terre Haute Innovation Alliance provides assistance to companies that are in the process of developing or expanding their products while engaging students and faculty in hands-on projects and creating jobs for the local economy. Current client companies include DesAcc Inc., InfraWare Inc., and Handshake LLC. More information about the center is available at www.indstate.edu/cbsei or by calling (812)237-2536.

Contact: Chris Pfaff, director, Center for Business Support and Economic Innovation, Indiana State University, (812) 237-2530 or cpfaff@isugw.indstate.edu

Writer: Dave Taylor, media relations director, Indiana State University, (812) 237-3743 or dave.taylor@indstate.edu

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Start-up businesses must define their position in the marketplace and remain focused in order to be successful, keynote speaker Jan Eglen said during an Entrepreneurial Day program Wednesday (Nov. 7) at Indiana State University. Eglen, chairman of the board and co-founder of Digonex Technologies Inc., holds four degrees from Indiana State.

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