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A company's ultimate product is its culture...


Starting Something
An Entrepreneur's Tale of Control,
Confrontation & Corporate Culture
Wayne McVicker

ISBN-13: 978-1-932881-01-1
ISBN-10: 1-932881-01-8
ISBN-13: 978-1-932881-02-8
ISBN-10: 1-932881-02-6

LCCN: 2004093746
Release Date: October 28, 2004
Publisher: Ravel Media
Page Count: 409
Illus: 63 b&w photos & illustrations

“I made a few hundred million . . . I lost a few hundred million.”

So begins this captivating story of how Neoforma, a software firm that accidentally became a dotcom darling and eventually a $3 billion public company, survived its struggles in the face of daunting obstacles. Against this backdrop, Starting Something delivers a wealth of insight, information, and advice for entrepreneurs and business managers, told on a very human level. Learn from the examples in this book to:

  • Effectively balance personal control
  • Respond positively to confrontation
  • Develop a great and lasting corporate culture
In this piercingly honest and highly personal narrative, you’ll get an insider’s view of the evolution and devolution of a good idea gone public. You also get an unflinching look at both the dark and the bright sides of corporate culture.


DIY Book Festival -
Book of the Year Award.
Winner in the Business/Career/Sales category of the -
Independent Publisher Book Awards.
Winner in the Business category of the -
Writers Notes Book Awards.
First Place in the BookAnnouncements -
Business Author of the Year.


“Finally, a book that provides the entrepreneur great reading while sharing excellent lessons in starting and building a company.”
- John Dean, previously CEO, Silicon Valley Bank, currently Managing General Partner, Startup Capital Ventures

“So successful was our MBA course based on Starting Something entitled ‘Managing a Start-up’, that it is being ‘exported’ to other universities including business schools as far afield as Bratislava and Vienna.”
- Dr. Anthony C. Warren, Dean, Smeal College of Business, The Pennsylvania State University

“A must-read for aspiring entrepreneurs. It took me years in the trenches building Symantec to learn the people-side lessons so freely elucidated by McVicker - and unfortunately not yet taught in business schools.”
- Denis Coleman, Founder, Symantec

Starting Something is an engrossing portrait of every entrepreneur’s dream from the inside, executed with skill and brimming with insight.”
Jerry Kaplan, author of Startup

“Buck's Restaurant has been the birthplace for a number of the most monumentally successful and weirdly untenable Silicon Valley companies, but nothing quite conveyed the essence of these ventures until I read Starting Something. McVicker is a gifted storyteller and he takes you inside the whirlwind.”
Jamis MacNiven, author of Breakfast at Buck’s

“I originally planned to skim it for highlights, but Iíve found it so engrossing Iím reading it like a novel. In fact, I must say, in comparison to Donald Trumpís latest book, which I also just picked up, I found Starting Something to be much more interesting and entertaining.”
Mimi Grant, President, Adaptive Business Leaders

“I can say without hesitation it is the best book I have read in the past year, and is #2 on my list of all-time favorite business books.”
Robert May, Founder, Business Pundit

Starting Something is not what I expected. It was much much more — and much better.”
Anita Campbell, Founder, Small Business Trends

“Incredibly well-written, Starting Something is essential for those engaged in, or considering, entrepreneurial ventures. Yet the lessons involving culture, along with the leadership epiphany's, transcend the start-up environment. McVicker not only grew Neoforma, he grew himself. This remarkably frank and engaging entrepreneur's tale is a primer for growing a department or an entire company. Perhaps more importantly, it reinfoces the notion that growth in any organization is preceded by the growth in its leadership.”
Bill Wiersma, author of upcoming The Big AHA!

“Silicon Valley player McVicker had an idea so brilliant — selling medical equipment via the Internet — that he cashed out $100,000 in personal pension funds at 40 cents on the dollar to get fast money to keep it going.

“That gulp-inducing leap occurs early in the scary financial roller-coaster ride McVicker chronicles here, a business thriller he writes with verve and skill. After that come the VCs (not gun-toting Viet Cong but high-rolling Venture Capitalists) who demand every piece of data short of McVicker's shoe size before they'll invest in his baby, Neoforma. Indeed, the VCs are all over him to change the name to something jazzier, but McVicker's focus is on his effort to make Neoforma succeed while maintaining his sanity, his family, his solvency and his self-respect. Born in the dot-com boom and a survivor of the Big Bust, Neoforma's story, as told here, is not a howto manual. Yet the reader comes away convinced that old-fashioned hard work, trusting instincts and hiring good people who fit your corporate culture remain the well-known secrets to business success, even in the MBA era. But one also learns that the 21st-century business world doesn't contain a whole lot of trust, and finding a true friend in the business jungle is no easy task. Particularly attractive is McVicker's direct, concise writing style in brief, clipped chapters that go down easy.

“For the manager, a handy tool, as well as a tale of financial daring exciting enough to interest a general readership.”

>> read more

After using the book in his business classes, Dr. Anthony C. Warren, Farrell Professor, Smeal College of Business, The Pennsylvania State University has taken the bookís topics a big step forward by facilitating professional video interviews (sample) with many of the characters from Starting Something. He has fastidiously edited these interviews and interwoven them with a Course Syllabus and Class Assignments. He has generously offered to make the video and materials available to other schools. Please contact Dr. Warren directly for more details:

Dr. Anthony C. Warren
The Pennsylvania State University
451C Business Building
University Park, PA 16802
Tel: 814-865-4593
Fax: 814-865-7425

Kirkus has given our upcoming publication, The Big AHA!, a glowing review, months before its publication in February 2006.

Brad Feld, a Managing Director at Mobius Venture Capital has written an astute (and complimentary) review of Starting Something, on his blog. His numbers on Neoforma are inaccurately negative (which he acknowledged to me were based on a rushed analysis), but his thoughtful discourse is poetry as are many of his other entries.

The following documents are available for download:

Tip Sheet
Cover - Small
Cover - Large
Author Photo

For a review copy of the book or an interview with the author, please contact us at (650) 559-6080 or info@ravel.tv

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