Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Mitch Arnowitz talks about Netpreneur, technology and Perthes disease

Mitch Arnowitz of Tuvel Communications was kind enough to give us an interview about his work for Netpreneur and the other technology groups he has worked with. His son has Perthes disease and he shares part of what he has learned about it.

How did you get interested in technology and communications? Did one come before the other?

I began in sales. From there, I got involved in direct marketing. I was fascinated when I realized, in 1995, that you could find people on the Internet and sell things to them. Fast-forward: I became enamored with the notion of using the Internet to not only broadcast but build relationships. I’m interested in the technology, but only as a means to an end. It’s always about the people and … not the technology. Having said all of that, I am still intrigued with e-mail list software and hosted solutions that support communication programs.

How did you come to found Tuvel Communications?

I was very involved in the Netpreneur program. After the Netpreneur Program went away, I went to work for a technology consulting shop. I was being billed out at an exorbitant rate. I was working with contacts and relationships developed over the years. I knew that I could lower the overhead, charge less and still make a profit while helping my clients. With that notion in mind, I founded Tuvel Communications.

At the same time, I saw a void in the online landscape. There weren’t, and still aren’t, many firms that combined grassroots and social media marketing help clients get their messages out effectively at reasonable costs. E-mail lists, user groups, web forums, niche online communities—these have all become an integral part of marketing. The trick, of course, is to do things the right way and leave a positive lasting impression.

How did you become involved in Netpreneur?

All the way back in 1995, I was working for the Internet’s first “department store” and traveling extensively at the time. A mutual friend put me in touch with Mario Morino. At the time, the Potomac Knowledgeway, Netpreneur’s precursor, was still around. The Netpreneur Program was being hatched. Mario offered me an opportunity to create the program’s marketing program and cut back on my travel.

How do you think the internet boom and bust compares to our present time?

Current economic problems run much deeper than the Internet. When the market imploded in 2000, it seemed to be largely in the tech sector. This time around, everything is affected. The boom-and-bust days were filled with entrepreneurs who knew no limits. A dozen years ago, people were quitting their jobs to work with start-ups or start their own companies. Today, they can’t find jobs and there seem to be fewer resources for start-ups.

How did you become moderator of the AdMarketing discussion list?

My passion has always been in the advertising-marketing-sales space. I developed a plan that helped Netpreneur’s constituency with a one-to-many approach. I realized that I might not have the marketing answer, but that there were others out there who did. To leverage community input, we developed an e-mail list. This enabled us to get answers and build relationships while spreading the word. Then, we built a website and had offline AdMarketing meetings. From there, the concept took off as an e-mail community.

What is important to the maintenance and cultivation of an e-mail discussion list?

A vibrant community needs someone(s) to steer the ship. Not necessarily a moderator, but a facilitator. It’s mission-critical to maintain a core group of supporters. These stakeholders help create and mine content, keep the civil discourse going, and give the facilitator an occasional break. It’s important to establish and maintain the personality and culture of a group. Doing this early on makes it easier to manage expectations.

How did you get involved with the Technology Council of Maryland?

Being a long-time resident of Montgomery County, I’ve been involved with the council for some time. A couple of years ago, the council and my firm began discussions about building relationships through social media. The Tech Council of Maryland, with Tuvel’s guidance, began to use social networking tools for advocacy programs and membership marketing.

How do you see the role of organizations such as NVTC, WTC and TCM?

Regional organizations like these provide necessary infrastructure. As the walls have come down between people and organizations, different types of affinity groups are springing up on social networking sites, in Meetups and other places. It is incumbent upon us all to work together and grow the pie—increase the total opportunities for the whole community. We already see this happening with efforts like Twin Tech.

How you describe Potomac technology culture?

The Washington, DC, culture is an interesting mix of business, government and organizations. A dozen years ago, people said that Washington was turning away from the government sector and defense contractors, and becoming a tech center. These days, the government might be an attractive place to work! With the preponderance of tech companies and regional infrastructure, Washington has always been a tech town. The government, on the other hand, is also here to stay. Washington’s culture will always be that odd mix where business and government come together.

What is Perthes disease? Is there an organization devoted to fighting this disease? What are the particular challenges of coping with a rare disease? Are there any resources you would recommend to families coping with a similar challenge?

Our son was recently diagnosed with Legg-CalvĂ©-Perthes disease, which is a form of osteonecrosis and a rare disease of the hip. It is not life-threatening, but it is serious. One of the challenges is the lack of consensus in the medical community. This leads to confusion. It’s difficult for parents to make treatment discussions. The Internet is a great resource—it allows you to connect with other families going through the same experience. The biggest challenge for any of us is to watch a child in pain and not be able to do anything about it.



Wikipedia: Perthes


The National Osteonecrosis Foundation

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