Oracle takes VentureNetwork worldwide

Oracle Corp. yesterday launched VentureNetwork, an online meeting place for entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and providers of services to startups worldwide.

At a news conference in Hong Kong, the database and enterprise management software maker introduced the free online service and touted its value for the Asian Internet industry.

"Asia's probably going to benefit to a much larger extent than the rest of the world," said Nick Arnold, senior director of Oracle's Asia-Pacific division.

The service is designed to help guide entrepreneurs through the process of securing venture capital and starting up a small Internet operation. The focus on small businesses and entrepreneurs with few connections to traditional venture-capital networks are especially well-suited to Asia, said Arnold and representatives of partner companies who spoke at the news conference.

At the www.venturenetwork.oracle.com site's launch Tuesday, there were 50 companies represented on the site that will offer services, software, consulting or investment capital to entrepreneurs trying to get started, Arnold said.

Entrepreneurs who register as members of the site can use a template to put together a standard business plan, research the venture-capital firms on the site to find the best prospects for funding the plan, and then submit the document to those firms online. The participating investment firms have agreed to acknowledge receipt of each plan within five days and say within 30 days whether or not they will fund the venture, Arnold said.

The concept was tested last year in Europe, where more than 1,800 business plans are going through the process, according to Oracle. Members of that pilot program will now be able to participate in VentureNetwork.

Oracle will not sell any products or services through the site, but hopes that as participating startups build their operations, some will adopt Oracle technologies. Arnold declined to disclose how much money the company is investing in VentureNetwork.

However, none of the partner companies offering services through the site will be ones that sell major competing products in Oracle's main database and enterprise automation lines of business, Arnold added, in response to a question at the conference.

The site will include "Country Corners" that give information on partners in particular regions and countries. Those currently are limited to Asia-Pacific, France, Italy and Spain. Some non-English resources are available in those sections, and more of VentureNetwork's resources eventually will become available in other languages, according to Oracle.

Oracle sees VentureNetwork as an online community for entrepreneurs who have good ideas but lack the connections to make them into businesses. Teasing out these good ideas from Asia's cooling high-tech environment could kick-start it, Oracle and the venture capitalists said.

"VentureNetwork is really about breathing life back into the economy," Arnold said.

Although personal introductions still make a difference in getting a business plan heard and funded, VentureNetwork will help some beginning high-tech entrepreneurs better craft and aim their pitches, said Paul Nolan, chief executive officer of VCChina, in Beijing, which performs due diligence on business plans and provides venture funding.

Other partners represented at the news conference included tplabs, the incubator arm of Hong Kong-based venture capital firm Techpacific.com, Hong Kong's Sunevision Holdings Ltd., AsiaTech Internet Group and China online training company E-Campus Group.

Oracle, in Redwood Shores, California, can be reached at +1-650-506-7000, or via the Web at http://www.oracle.com/.

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