Enter The Mentor

Matt Cutler started net.Genesis, but he needed Larry Bohn to help run it

At the age of 25, Matthew Cutler was living the startup dream: an Internet business with $1 million in sales, venture-capital backing, and an IPO on the horizon. So how did he feel when a stranger was brought in to run the show? "It was a relief," says the ponytailed entrepreneur.

Cutler had learned that it's a lot easier to start a company than run one. His company, net.Genesis Corp., was born in a Massachusetts Institute of Technology dorm in 1994, when Cutler and his classmate Eric Richard began offering technical help to Web ventures, eventually devising software that tracks the behavior of Web-site visitors. Business took off, but by 1997, Cutler was in trouble. "We weren't growing," he says. Enter Larry Bohn. The 48-year-old executive had just managed the IPO of PC Docs Inc. when he was approached by net.Genesis' board. Bohn liked what he saw, and with the blessing of Cutler and Richard, became the new CEO. The first thing he did was convert net.Genesis from a software company to a service provider. "I like to think I've taught him a lot about strategy and how to mobilize a company," Bohn says.

A student of martial arts and Zen, Cutler, now 27, sees himself as something of a "karate kid" with Bohn as his mentor, while Richard, 26, handles technical matters as the firm's CTO. "We're techno-artistes learning the primal lesson that enthusiasm is not a substitute for experience," Cutler says. In February, net.Genesis went public, raising $76.5 million, and giving Cutler a net worth of some $4.7 million. Like most Internet companies, net.Genesis is bleeding cash. But Cutler, whose title now is Chief E-Business Intelligence Officer, remains confident. "I'm learning a ton--the kind of skills you're not going to get in any business school," he says. Besides, where else could you get a $4.7 million rebate on tuition?