What gives an idea real value is a lot of talented people buying into it. When designers and engineers and worker bees and managers and creators of smart words and revealing pictures all buy into a good idea and commit to making it work in the real world, that's what gives it value.
In the as-yet-unhyped area of online communications, I caught a whiff, by the late '80's, of a technology that was going to change the way we live and work. And I wanted to be part of that change. I didn't see any way of doing that within the confines of the typical agency structure, and so, in 1991, I left the advertising agency I founded in 1978 to launch Productivity OnLine, the first online information service in Cincinnati.
Technically, POL was an enormous success. Using proprietary conferencing software, we brought the City of Cincinnati, the Cincinnati Post, and many area schools online; we provided our subscribers with their first access to Internet email and Usenet newsgroups; we automated the translation of the Scripps-Howard news wire to our POL conference forums; by 1993, we were providing dialup Internet access to subscribers; we built the first websites for area businesses; we were the first Cincinnati business to connect to the Internet using a fiber optic T1 line.
But from a business standpoint, it was a different story. We were in too early to attract the kind of venture capital that we would have needed to sustain our growth, and I was unable to continue funding the operation on my own.
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