[ This article originaly appeared
Boulder Daily Camera on February 22nd, 2003. Copyright
2003 The Daily Camera ]
of the silver that lines the current gloom billowing
around the technology sector is the propensity of
many executives to strike out on their own and make
a fresh start.
This year we've heard of a
number of managers and entrepreneurs picking up the
remnants of their declining or soon-to-close businesses
to set up shop on their own.
Two recent examples: International
Approvals Laboratories, a testing facility, was established
in Boulder by two executives who bought the business
from a former parent firm; and Imulus, an Internet
strategy and branding firm created by three workers
who worked for a Web design shop that shut them down.
For local technology executive
Sheila Paxton, tough times bring a natural opportunity
to launch a brand new business.
"I'm not ready to stop working;
I'm not even 50!" said Paxton, a well-known speaker
and executive coach.
Paxton has founded ami group,
www.amigroup.biz, a coaching and consulting firm
the lower-case letters are part of its brand. The
name "ami" is not to signify anything friendly, but
is an acronym for accountability, mastery and integrity,
which Paxton says are the pillars of successful businesses
and business leaders.
"My business is high-tech
and high-touch," she said, saying that she will work
closely with executives to improve their skills. The
values she preaches aren't feel-good measures
she insists they will increase revenues for technology
Paxton founded e-learning
firm IPX in Boulder in October 1998 with just $5,000
and a ton of energy. It was acquired by the Frontline
Group for an undisclosed sum in 2000.
Things were going great at
Paxton's 94-employee, multi-million-dollar division,
until the economy and events of Sept. 11, 2001, greatly
hampered the business. It filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy
protection in October listing debts of $10
million to $50 million but was immediately
snatched up by Nashville-based Little Planet Learning.
The firm kept a handful of
Boulder employees, but after the transition, Paxton
started looking around for something new.
"My job was to assure a smooth
transition," she said. "I was glad to, it was my baby.
But after that was done, the company had gotten so
small, it was time for me to move on. ... It's in
really good hands."
She thinks the time is right
for her new firm. After an era of dot-bombs and corporate
crooks, she said the values her company is named after
are more needed than ever.
"It started with the ideals
that are the main drivers of successful businesses,"