Q: I have a few quick questions for you. Since you’ve had experience with dot-com businesses, in your opinion: Are dot-com businesses (like for instance NetFlix) still viable business ideas? From idea conception to sustainable profit, for dot-com businesses, what amount of capital and time is usually required (assuming that they are good enough ideas to succeed)? What kind of internet business models are there?
A: Like any business, an internet business can be all over the map in terms of its viability, capital and time required. An internet business is still a “business”, it just happens to use an internet channel to reach and serve customers. And like any business, there is a tremendous variety of business models and launch strategies.

First, let’s look at viability. To be viable, a web-based business has to provide real value for customers while charging a meaningful amount of revenue that that is sufficient enough to cover expenses and results in a profit. What the internet as a channel really brought to customers was a level of connection, efficiency, and information that was unprecedented. Some business models simply tried to build a compelling model around a transaction that required a lot of information to be exchanged, while, others tried to offer information to customers at no charge, while shifting their revenue model in the form of advertising or lead generation paid by a provider that was looking for customers. And there are many other types of internet business models. In total, they will typically fall into one of these categories, as defined by Michael Rappa in his book, Managing the Digital Enterprise: Brokerage, Advertising, Infomediary, Merchant, Manufacturer, Affiliate, Community, Subscription, and Utility.