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Europe can be dotcom leader

The crash of State-side dotcoms leaves the market wide open for wiser Europeans.

European companies can learn from the crash of dotcoms in the US and take the lead in the new economy, said business consultancy experts at a recent gathering to discuss what is required to make a dotcom successful.

"There's a wave of destruction for non-robust companies moving rather quickly towards Europe," said Richard Spinks, founder of Vavo.com, an online community for the over-45s. "The wreckage behind the wave in America is massive. Europe is in the driving seat. There are still people who are willing to invest in management teams that get it, who have learnt from what has happened."

But firms will only benefit if they apply sound business reasoning and don't get carried away with dotcom fever, the experts warned.

"Have you got a management team? Have you got a business model that's going to survive? Who pays the first cheque?" said Clive Hyman, UK head of business incubation services at consultancy KPMG. Hyman vets hundreds of business plans a month from would-be entrepreneurs before recommending a few viable ones to investors. "Frankly anybody who comes in and says their business model works on advertising revenue alone gets shown the door. This concept of taking a business to flotation being the only exit is just balony."

The need for sound business planning was echoed by Hyman's colleague, Mich McLoughlin, a partner with KPMG who acted as liquidator for failed online retailer Boo.com, who said a contingency plan is vital.

"Boo valued the worldwide market for sports kit at something like £600bn and said they could get 1 percent of it. That was the whole underlying assumption of sales. There was no plan B."

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