Awareness Mentoring Integrating Group Outcomes


Proposed Scope of Work


The Montana Job Training Partnership, Inc. will partner with Lone Eagle Consulting for a one year demonstration project to extend the scope of the current Montana Choice demonstration project to showcase Internet self-employment fast-track solutions in a locally-driven mini-ecommerce incubator model using local Internet Service providers and existing local web masters. A team-building model will include awareness-raising strategies, monitored mentoring, and organized outcomes with time/monthly analysis. Local Chambers of Commerce will participate by updating and considering redesigning current local web registries of all local business web sites and reviewing the best methods by which all local web business sites can be most efficiently co-marketed as a community-driven economic development activity.


Facilitating fast-track self-employment training five entrepreneurs will be selected from each of the partner communities Dillon, MT and Butte, MT.  Entry-level Ecommerce training will be provided for one year starting with online auction skills (like eBay) and continuing to the next level of establishing web sites complete with an emarketing and business plan. All five entrepreneurs in each community will be tasked to work as a team to assure the support and success of all five participants. Emarketing will be an ongoing collaborative activity.


Over one year selected low-income entrepreneurs will receive entry-level training for using online auctions like eBay. Web sites will be created for those with marketable products along with development of the skills to maintain these sites. Collaborative emarketing of these and other local business web sites will comprise the final component of this replicable local Ecommerce incubator model. A combination of local face-to-face hands-on workshops will be supplemented by online instruction and ongoing mentoring.


This demonstration project will demonstrate replicable cost-effective entry-level Ecommerce entrepreneurship strategies and curriculum best practices. Too often local web authoring expertise is under recognized and utilized. This project will provide a mechanism by which local expertise will be directly validated and empowered with a structured program. Participants will be required to collaborate with other local entrepreneurs. Existing local Ecommerce successes will be specifically recognized and posted on a local business web directory to be collaboratively emarketed along with participants new Ecommerce entrepreneurial initiatives.


To develop greater awareness for sustainable Ecommerce Incubator models local leaders, Chambers of Commerce, SBDC’s, Internet Service Providers, Cybercafe’s, educational institutions and related training centers will be invited to review better ways of working together and in particular will explore the eBay Drop Off center concepts and multiple existing and planned Ecommerce Incubator Center models detailed in appendices E and F. Virtual incubators such as the Idaho Virtual Incubator ( will also be reviewed.


MJTP and Lone Eagle Consulting are prepared to commence project activities as soon as contracts are executed with the US Department of Agriculture. 







Months One and Two


Months Three and Four


Months  Five and Six


Months Seven and Eight

April 1 – Jun 30

Months Nine and Ten


Months Eleven and Twelve

Meet with local leaders, Chambers of Commerce, SBDC’s, Internet Service Providers, Cybercafe’s, educational institutions and related training centers staff to plan and schedule events.


Develop curriculum and finalize evaluation and data collection plans, survey tools, and methodologies.

Select ten entrepreneurs.







AMIGO Ebay and Ecommerce Training







Six Full-day training events, beginning with Ebay training, creation of basic web sites, Business plan creation, Emarketing strategies







Begin online lessons and collaboration







Community Discussions regarding Action Plans for sustainable Ebay Drop Off Center and Ecommerce Incubator Center models














Assess current community web business directories and consider redesign







Assess current Community Emarketing Strategies and consider redesign







Assess ways to better coordinate ISPs, Webmasters, SBDCs, local training centers, and other potential Ecommerce Incubator partners.














Pre-Assessment of Communities







Collect evaluative data







Complete and write final evaluation











Entry-Level Rural Ecommerce and Telework Strategies (A Beginner’s Guide to Profiting from the Internet)


Teaching rural entrepreneurship to persons in poverty in low population rural communities without addressing the vast global markets that Internet access makes available undermines the goal of reducing poverty. Over a quarter million persons are self-employed using online auction sites like Ebay which requires minimal technical skills. Our unique program of face-to-face community events and workshops followed by online lessons and mentoring has been successful raising individual and community awareness regarding genuine entry-level self-employment opportunities using the Internet. Our program and resources has been presented in dozens of communities touching over 500 individuals. Over a hundred persons have engaged the online lessons.


January 2002, after a year of Ecommerce awareness events in Montpelier, Idaho, one of the poorer communities in southeast Idaho, Idaho State University Special Programs and Lone Eagle Consulting created an online course specifically for rural citizens who had never taken an online course, “A Beginner’s Guide to Profiting from the Internet” Through “learning by doing,” ten two-hour online lessons present rural ecommerce and telework successes from other rural citizens and develop self-directed Internet learning skills.


Cited as “painlessly enlightening,” this method of presenting new knowledge to create new opportunities is fundamentally replicable. Our three-year track record of successful awareness raising and skills training events, including documenting Ecommerce success stories in southeast Idaho, is at and statewide successes are documented at


A Montpelier crafters’ e-mall, the Clover Creek Mall at, was then created to demonstrate the benefits of collaborative marketing and includes a redesigned local web business directory showcasing all local Ecommerce web sites. The community section at of the Clover Creek Mall features a photo gallery with photos of many of the local crafters. The e-mall is maintained by local volunteers.


During October, 2003, the online course developed for southeast Idaho was adopted for use by the Montana Job Training Partnership’s new $3 million dollar five-year demonstration project providing online Rural Ecommerce and Telework Training via One Stops. The project is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy and includes Native Americans and individuals with disabilities. It is focused on creating systemic change redefining workforce education.
Project Description:  
Grant Summary:


Our program’s first article three years ago, “Homesteading the Ecommerce Frontier” has grown from a review of the possibilities into a replicable unique program for rural, remote, indigenous, and disabled workers. The themes presented in “The New Gold Rush – Mining Raw Human Potential Using Free Web Tools”  have proven truer and truer over the past few years.


Three Key Points


1. Awareness raising strategies are needed on entry-level Ecommerce activities such as easy online auction sites that have proven successful for hundreds of thousands of people. Minimal technical skills are required and the body of evidence that this works is indisputable. High-touch training is essential to overcome common fears of technology and learning.


2. New knowledge is required to create new opportunities. Teaching rural entrepreneurship requires Ecommerce entrepreneurship education tailored to the learning styles of persons in poverty. Teaching rural entrepreneurship to persons in poverty in low population rural communities without addressing the vast global markets that Internet access makes available undermines the goal of reducing poverty.


3. Creating an Entrepreneurial Culture requires a friendly person-centered approach and ongoing support and encouragement developing new skills and self-esteem.


Area to Be Served


Butte, Montana, population 33,325, is located in southwestern Montana and best known for its history in copper mining.  Butte was the first fully developed city in Montana due primarily to the wealth of the mining industry here.  When Edison perfected his light bulb, the mines and the city both became illuminated at night - the first city west of the Mississippi River to have electric light.  At the height of its hey-day, Butte boasted a population of approx. 100,000 people.  Butte has a very rich history, which is truly worth exploring.  In the 1970's, the Anaconda Company began its open pit mining.  The Berkley Pit is one of the largest man-made open mined pits in North America.  The advent of the pit created a flooding problem as it cut off the natural aquifer that made up Silver Bow Creek.  During the operation of the pit, the company had to run pumps to keep the water under control.  When the pit shut down, so did the pumps.  Today the Berkley Pit is about two-thirds full of water.  Living with the aftermath of the century-long effects of the mining industry, Butte Silver Bow represents one of the largest "Super Fund Clean-Up Sites" in the United States.  Over the past 20 years, mining and natural resource extraction industries have nearly ceased to exist in Montana.  Economic development efforts have been successful in recruiting some high tech industries.  Other predominant industries are manufacturing, services, transportation and utilities.  Per capital personal income in 2000 was $22,456 or 74 percent of the national average.


The town of Dillon has a population of 4,147 and each year the population declines slightly.  Per capita income within the county is $15,621 with 17.1 percent of the population living below poverty.  Dillon has had high-speed wireless for two years and has a history of ten years of Internet innovations starting with the Big Sky Telegraph project, one of the very first rural connectivity projects.  It connected over 100 one-room schools statewide form 1988-1998.  Followed by the Dillon-Net project, a TOP project funded in 1997 to create a community technology center, which served as a national model from 1997-2002.  Dillon’s leaders now are looking for specific strategies to understand how to take the next big step to unlock the economic and social value that Internet collaboration holds.


The front-page story of Silicon Valley’s premier newspaper, the San Jose Mercury News, (October 31, 2000) was on the impact of the Internet in Dillon, Montana.  The article heralded Dillon-Net, as a model Community Technology Center.


The Dillon-Net Community Technology Center is closing its doors, after having been an awards finalist for the International Rural Innovation Bangemann Challenge 2000 competition held by the King of Sweden.  Dillon-Net was also an awards finalist two years in a row for the American Online Rural Innovations Competition.  Perhaps Dillon is ready to take the next step in demonstrating how the collective will of a community can create a model for realizing the potential of the Internet?


NOTE: Read more about Dillon’s Internet innovations in this chapter from “The Good Neighbor’s Guide to Community Networking” at  This guide was written on contract for the state of Texas and the guide’s table of contents is at


From 1988 – 1998, the Big Sky Telegraph Network was a national model, based at Dillon’s University of Montana, Western campus.  The Big Sky Telegraph Network was created to engage teachers in determining how the online medium could help them share curriculum resources and generally determine how good people could learn to support one another, online.  During this same ten-year period, the community networking movement rose, and fell, while technologies changed and experimental community-building applications of the online medium wee conducted nationally.


When the Big Sky Telegraph project was created, few people accepted getting online as something important to learn.  The Dillon-Net project created a local community-gathering place where young and old could have access to their first hands-on Internet experiences, and could learn from each other about the benefits.  Both projects have prepared Dillon for what might be considered the next chapter for how a community can learn about the self-empowerment potential of online learning and collaboration.


Coordination with Economic Development Activities and Business to be Assisted


Project staff will contact local economic development agencies and Small Business Development Centers to identify new and existing businesses that might benefit from project activities.  Additionally, Montana Job Training Partnership, Inc., administers Workforce Investment Act programs that provide linkages to employers and the business community through local Community Management Teams and Job Service Employer Committees.  These committees can be used to identify businesses as well.


Local Chambers of Commerce will participate by creating current local web registries of all local business web sites and reviewing the best methods by which all local web business sites can be efficiently co-marketed as a community-driven economic development activity.


Montana Job Training Partnership, Inc., is currently administering two projects that assist individuals with disabilities start businesses.  The projects are funded by the US Department of Labor and include several participants in southwestern Montana.  More information on the project is available at  Participants have received funding for training, equipment or other services to start their businesses.  However, as fledgling businesses, their real immediate need is to discover the unlimited markets available to them.  Some of the businesses started online vintage clothing sales, investigation and research services, pottery sales, and website design.  These business have a variety of opportunities to them including selling on Ebay or other auction sites, developing a Community Ecommerce Center and utilizing virtual incubators.


Business to be Assisted and Economic Development to be Accomplished


Internet Infrastructure alone has proven to be inadequate to sustain rural communities. Effective use of infrastructure is needed to create a meaningful info-structure built on concrete content and effective collaborative practices. Social engineering strategies engaging citizens in ongoing self-directed online learning are needed to enable rural citizens to determine their own destinies and together build a sustainable future.


Rural leaders need to understand how to bridge the gaps in their understanding what’s achievable regarding innovative community technology centers and community networks. Community leaders must first become aware of the successful innovations of others, particularly those which can be replicated locally at minimal cost without the need for outside funding. Fast-track essential Ecommerce skills development can generate measurable benefits to motivate citizens about the value of new knowledge.


A Beginners Guide to Profiting from the Internet is a ten two-hour lesson curriculum available for review at  It presents a hands-on overview of what’s working for other entrepreneurs and businesses and includes activities exploring many of the best Ecommerce and telework training materials and resources available.  It is designed to be interactive with others and the instructor.  A brief introduction to each chapter is listed below:


Lesson OneEcommerce and Telework Readiness Skills.  This class will provide a hands-on overview of your key opportunities related to Ecommerce and Telework.  You’ll review what has already been proven to work for others and will learn where to find specific information when you need it.

            Lesson Two Ecommerce Fast-Track Strategies – With the world changing so rapidly, you need to find a way to keep track of new trends in order to know what’s working for others and what is coming next.  Because there’s so much that’s changing, finding ways to deal with information overload is a priority.  Take advantage of available resources that have already summarized information

            Lesson Three Ecommerce Cooperatives and Virtual Incubators.  If you are a crafter and just wish to sell your crafts, perhaps you don’t need your own web site.  You might use eBay, or you might just post your crafts on a crafters’ cooperative web site along with the crafts of many others to benefit from collaborative marketing.

            Lesson Four E-Marketing Strategies.  Using available resources, you can market your products or web site globally just as effectively as anyone in a big city – once you know how.

            Lesson Five Entrepreneurship Training Opportunities.  Imagine being able to live anywhere, either working for yourself running your own businesses, or working for someone else, but still able to live anywhere and set your own work schedule. 

            Lesson Six Online Resumes and Job Sites – Selling Yourself.  Extensive resources on all kinds of careers, both online and offline, can be found at job-finding sites that allow free posting of resumes and many other sophisticated features.

            Lesson Seven Telecommuting and Telework Opportunities.  Telework relates to work performed via telecommunications.  Employers are finding that many high quality workers are demanding this type of flexible work arrangement as a condition for employment.

            Lesson Eight International Trade Training Resources.  By U.S. standards, most of the world is still in poverty.  New satellite and wireless systems will soon be able to bring the Internet to nearly any point on the globe – bringing the potential for new economic solutions. 

            Lesson Nine How to Start a Business.  There is a process to follow and extensive resources are available to assist you.  Patience and perseverance are required, but you’ll be surprised at how quickly your new business concept can become a reality.

            Lesson Ten New Rules for the New Economy.  In a world of accelerating change, your strategy is to benefit from those resources that allow you to “ride the wave” instead of being dragged along.  There is increasing importance on the value of relationships.


The Community Ecommerce Center concept will be utilized to assist new and existing businesses develop niche marketing and expand local economies.


Online auction businesses, like eBay, are the biggest Ecommerce success stories, having not only survived the tech stocks bust, but continually demonstrating rapid growth internationally.


eBay, with over 50 million users, exchanging over $40 million in goods daily, has given over 150,000 people the opportunity to become self-employed fulltime buying and selling via eBay. Even without a product to sell, anyone can quickly learn how to research how most people on eBay have learned to identify the going rates for products selling on one part of eBay, and then to identify sources for purchasing these same products at lower prices elsewhere. With minimum capital required to get started, tens of thousands of people have learned to be successful buying and selling online.


Utilizing vacant storefronts on the main street, the Community Ecommerce Center is a combination community technology center, Ecommerce/fulfillment center, and Kinko’s-style community cooperative service center where free services are offered to take digital photos of products for sale, (Ex. Quilts, crafts, antiques, value-added products, etc.) and then store them for shipment for a defined period while attempts are made to sell them.

This unique storefront E-business would display all posted salable items for others to see what’s being auctioned online. Shelves of products will be open for bidding, as well. Public records would be highly visible for what has sold and at what price.


As word gets around the community that cash-in-hand for contributors really works, more and more citizens out of curiosity will begin to show increased interest in what does sell and will begin to understand the process of determining new markets for online selling. Cybercafes have also proven to be a successful model – replicated thousands of times worldwide, providing the added incentives of a cup of coffee and/or food.


The Center service will provide free sit-down sessions to help newcomers get comfortable with how to both research markets for their goods as well as how to post their items themselves. Six Internet-connected computers will be immediately available to open the door for one of the biggest first steps of all, self-initiated hands-on computer exploration and learning. 


Community Ecommerce Center Services:


            1.  Quick-Cash Auction Services to Raise Awareness Quickly

off an item for sale via online auctions on a commission basis with a standing invitation to be shown how this is done and how you can learn to easily do it yourself.


            2.         Fast-track Training services to Rapidly Generate Local Skills
Short 30-minute trainings will deliver real skills quickly - with emphasis on creating for-profit products and services. Extensive existing Ecommerce Curriculum has already been created via a partnership between Idaho State University and Lone Eagle Consulting


Ten 30-Minute Mastery Learning Skill Units


1.      Browsing Basics (Example

2.       Searching Basics (Example

3.       Email Basics (Example

4.       Listserv Basics for Group Collaboration (Ex.

5.       Web-authoring Basics (Ex.

6.       Digital Photography and Photo-manipulation Basics

7.       Digital Art Tablet Basics

8.       Multimedia Basics (Online sound, video, animations)

9.       Downloading and Installing Software Basics

10.     EBay Basics (Entry Level Ecommerce Basics)


An Ecommerce Web Mall and Support for Emerging New Businesses A web mall will be created and will provide existing and emerging new businesses the opportunity to easily learn how best to get on the web quickly using web templates and/or low-cost Ecommerce store-builder services.

Additional Ecommerce training resources are listed at Appendix G.


Demonstrated Capability 


Montana Job Training Partnership (MJTP)

As a 501 c 3 non-profit organization MJTP will serve as administrative entity for the RBOG project.  MJTP already has many workforce and community-building programs underway in Montana and Wyoming.


MJTP management and oversight responsibilities include program development, planning, request for proposal process and selection of service providers, program management and monitoring, maintaining a management information system, technical assistance, fiscal accountability and program outcomes and performance.


As directed by the Workforce Investment Boards, MJTP oversees employment and training funds for disadvantaged adults and youth, dislocated workers and other needy populations to organizations throughout Montana.  Economically disadvantaged adults and youth served by WIA programs in Montana include TANF or food stamps recipients, public housing residents, and individuals who are basic skills deficient, individuals with disabilities, teen parents, veterans, unemployed, working poor, offenders, and dropouts.  MJTP’s programs have consistently met or exceeded federal performance measures since 1990. 


MJTP’s staff of 16 is responsible for all areas of management for Montana’s WIA programs, including program development, planning, request for proposal processes, selection of service providers, oversight, compliance and quality monitoring, fiscal activities and performance evaluation.  Several staff have certain areas of expertise in areas such as school-to-work, dislocated workers, veterans, One-Stop centers, quality initiatives, youth and adult services, training programs, individuals with disabilities, special projects targeting certain populations, WIA, and others.  MJTP staff are available as resources for this project.


Lone Eagle Consulting  Specializing in fast-track Internet training for rural, remote, and indigenous learners, Lone Eagle Consulting is currently serving as online Ecommerce and telework online trainer for the Montana Job Training Partnership. Lone Eagle Consulting is also creating an online clearinghouse on self-employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities for both MJTP and the University of Montana Rural Institute: A National Center of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research, and Services .

Born in Cody, Wyoming, in 1952, Frank Odasz has been a carpenter, oil field roughneck, dude ranch manager, and college professor and is now a “Lone Eagle” – that is, an independent instructional entrepreneur living on a ranch eight miles southwest of Dillon, Montana. Modeling western individualism by pioneering the electronic frontier, Frank is living proof the Internet can be used to allow rural citizens to retain their cherished rural lifestyle. Lone Eagle Consulting champions the cause of creating more rural Lone Eagles able to live and work anywhere they choose.


 In 1982 Frank attended the University of Wyoming to learn the benefits that computers and telecommunications could bring to rural citizens.  As one of the early pioneers of both online learning and community networking, he founded the Big Sky Telegraph network in 1988.  This was one of the first online systems to offer online courses for rural educators in over one hundred one-room schoolhouses in Montana.  He directed this program until 1998.

Frank served on the founding boards for both the Consortium for School Networking and the Association for Community Networking. Frank has been a very popular presenter providing rural community workshops for the Kellogg “Managing Information in Rural America” project, workshops for educators for the International Thinkquest Competition, CTCnet national conferences, AFCN-cosponsored community networking conferences, and has advised on grant applications for the Hewlett Packard Digital Village initiative, as well as U.S. Dept. of Ed. Office of Migrant Education technology projects.


In 2002, he created Rural Ecommerce and Telework Strategies as a non-credit first online course specifically for rural learners. Recently, over 40 rural adults, and 16 Athabascan High School youth are enrolled in the Rural Ecommerce course. Frank has been the keynote speaker for the Rural Workforce national conference three years in a row and for many other Ecommerce conferences including the National Native American Employment and Training conference, 2003. Additional Ecommerce presentations are listed at .


Frank has been teaching rural citizens and teachers consecutively since 1988. Among the other online courses he has created are Classroom Collaboration on the Internet; Mentoring Online; How to Create and Teach an Online Class; Making the Best Use of Internet for K-12 Instruction; and Designing Online Curriculum for K-12 Instruction. Frank teaches online graduate courses for Alaska Pacific University, Seattle Pacific University and the non-credit Ecommerce course for Idaho State University.


Specializing in fast-track Internet training for rural, remote, and indigenous learners for the last 20 years, Frank has traveled over half a million miles presenting at national and international conferences on online learning, community networking, and rural Ecommerce. Frank has diverse experience working with Alaskan villages and rural communities. Frank’s work has been recognized for excellence by four congressional reports, the White House, and dozens of books and publications. Resume:


Evaluation Method


Visible measurable outcomes will be graphically represented on the web on an on-going basis as an automated feature of the community content management systems such that all participating communities can self-assess their levels of participation and productive results at any time.


Throughout the project evaluations will be taken for all ongoing activities. All evaluative instruments will be developed with the assistance of the external evaluator. The first six months of the project will be used to design and conduct a pre-assessment for community readiness to use as a baseline. A post-assessment will be conducted at the end of the project.  The data will be summarized and compared to the pre-assessment and the compared to business trends in Montana and the U.S.




This demonstration project will demonstrate replicable cost-effective entry-level Ecommerce entrepreneurship strategies.


6 1-day workshops @$1500/wkshop x 2 communities  
Includes travel and training materials                              $18,000
Online training and mentorship support
$1800/month x 10 months                                                $18,000
Web hosting and local web support/tech assistance,
plus emarketing services $800 x ten participants               $8,000
MJTP overhead                                                                   $6,000
Total                                                                                   $50,000







A         MJTP 501 c (3) Status

B         MJTP Articles of Incorporation

C         MJTP Balance Sheet and Income Statement

D         MJTP Audit Report

E         Ecommerce Centers Expanded Explanation

F          Article on Ebay Drop-Off Stores

G         Lone Eagle Consulting Training Resources





Appendix E

 Ecommerce Centers Expanded Explanation


Careful analysis of ten years of community technology centers ( will reveal that most community technology centers do not emphasize teaching online collaboration and online learning skills or prepare citizens for online participation in community networks to build collaborative capacity. Most centers have only a vague idea of what curriculum will be most empowering. As an initial practical strategy they tend to focus on teaching employability skills often limited to word processing and computer basics.

Community technology centers need to prioritize teaching self-directed Internet learning skills and online collaboration skills, ideally generating local community networks as the hub for local online capacity building focusing on collaborative local problem-solving. Short learning modules should be sequenced in a progression of empowering capabilities with certification for specific skills achieved. Civic participation and mentoring others would be inherent as part of the essential skill-building activities.

These centers will be a combination Community Technology Center, Online Auction Drop-off Center, and Ecommerce Incubator. Free services will be offered to take digital photos of products for sale (quilts, crafts, antiques, etc.)  and then store them for shipment for a defined period while attempts are made to sell them.  Different methods of selling will be provided for people to choose from.  Auction centers such as Auction Watch and eBay are two choices.  The third is to put the items up for sale in the virtual web mall.

            This center will motivate citizens to “learn-to-earn” by offering the opportunity to bring items for sale to the center for free posting on online auction or mall sites.  A small commission will be charged only for items sold, thus allowing citizens an effortless way to turn their salable items into cash.  This storefront e-business will display all post salable items for others to see what is being auctioned online.  Shelves of products will be open for bidding as well.  Records of products will be visible for what has sold and at what price so the community can benefit from this type of market research.

            When people come to the center with products to sell, they’ll be asked to remain in the center while the initial product posting service is being performed.  They need to answer questions regarding their products and/or services they wish to sell, and they will need to watch to make sure it is being performed to their specification.  The intent is that after “watching” they will be offered the opportunity to perform the computer operations for themselves while being tutored and then, finally, just to come in and do it themselves.

            The center services will provide free sit-down sessions to help newcomers get comfortable with how to both research markets for their goods as well as how to post their items themselves.  Ten computers connected to the Internet will be immediately available to open the door for one of the biggest steps of all – self-initiated, hands-on computer exploration and learning.

The center will serve as an e-business and telework incubator.  It will provide a place for people to access computers, Internet, phones, shippers, marketing, business expertise, and multiple services to help them get their businesses started.



Appendix F


EBay Drop-Off Stores Sprout on Main Street USA

Reuters News Service

Wed Jan 14, 2004


By Lisa Baertlein


LOS ALTOS, Calif. (Reuters) - EBay Inc., the world's biggest online marketplace, is inspiring an unlikely entrepreneurial spin-off:  Bricks-and-mortar middlemen of the kind many thought Web retailing would force out of business.


The drop-off stores, including newly minted chains such as AuctionDrop, iSold It, QuikDrop, AuctionWagon and Pictureitsold, charge a commission to handle eBay auctions for people who are unwilling or unable to do it themselves.


The stores are important to eBay since the company's growth forecasts hinge on signing up more new eBay sellers and getting existing sellers to become more active.


"Only 8 percent of our customers have ever sold o­n eBay, so it's totally incremental for them," said Randy Adams, chief executive of AuctionDrop, the most richly funded of the drop-off stores that have sprung up in the last year.


Hani Durzy, eBay's spokesman, said the company embraces the offline outgrowth of its business and has no plans to open stores of its own.


"It's just another way of extending the eBay marketplace. We're happy to see this growing and expanding out of the trading assistants program," he said.



Store owners say they have helped customers sell everything from four lifetime seats for San Francisco 49ers professional football games and Lucchese handcrafted cowboy boots to new and "classic" computers.


Users say the stores -- which take a commission and pay eBay fees before sending proceeds to customers -- often do a better job than they could of taking pictures, researching fair value, writing sales blurbs and shipping.


Carol Shaffer, a software company training director, has been selling on eBay for almost six years and tried AuctionDrop after a new job left her too busy to oversee her own o­nline moving sale o­n eBay.


All told, Shaffer said she's sold well over 100 items via AuctionDrop, including several Coach purses and jewelry. "It was just the perfect idea at the perfect time," Shaffer said.


Thus far, AuctionDrop has collected $6.6 million in venture funding from Mobius Venture Capital and Draper Associates. It operates four stores in the San Francisco Bay area that feed into a central processing hub.


Since opening its first store in March, the value of items sold by AuctionDrop is $1.6 million, with $300,000 of that coming in December, said Adams, a so-called "serial entrepreneur" who in 1994 sold his start up Internet Shopping Network to the Home Shopping Network.


The windows of AuctionDrop's store in the wealthy Silicon Valley town of Los Altos display current for-sale items, including an oboe, an antique beaded handbag, a vintage Kodak camera and various high-end gadgets.


This year, AuctionDrop plans to add company-owned stores in the San Francisco and Los Angeles areas and to expand its West Coast hub. It then expects to open an East Coast hub in New Jersey and a Midwest hub in the Chicago environs, before launching other hubs in the Dallas and Atlanta areas to support local stores. Profitability is targeted for 2005, Adams said.


AuctionDrop's planned move into Los Angeles will put the company in direct competition with rival iSold It, which opened its first store in Pasadena in mid-December and already is selling franchises.  Also franchising is Costa Mesa, California-based QuikDrop, which has stores in Texas, California, Alabama, Montana, Virginia and South Carolina.


ISold It founder Elise Wetzel, who started the Wetzel's Pretzels franchise with her husband, got the idea for giving people an easy way to sell o­nline after she arranged a school fund-raiser in which parents raised money by selling items from their closets o­n eBay.

"You can do it yourself, but who has the time and the knowledge? We're giving people access that they don't have right now. It's a value-added service," said Wetzel, who is scouting locations for 15 stores in Southern California and thinks that there could be 500 iSold It stores in the United States by the end of 2005.


Wetzel said iSold It boasts a 95 percent sell-through rate and takes a 25 percent commission.


Including all fees, a person selling a $100 item through iSold It would keep close to $70, Wetzel said. According to AuctionDrop's Web site, selling a $100 item at o­ne of its stores would net the seller about $59.



Appendices G


Major Training Resources From Lone Eagle Consulting


NEW Online course “A Beginner’s Guide to Profiting from the Internet”  Ten two-hour hands-on lessons providing an overview of what’s working for others like you regarding ecommerce and telework self-employment.


Rural Ecommerce and Telework Strategies  A 200 page book including ten online lessons.


Master Listings of Original Writings on Internet Empowerment
Community Internet Empowerment
 The first article is a Authenticating Rural Internet and Broadband Benefits - A Reality Check Written for the Australian.

Rural Ecommerce Success Stories  The first article is Rural Ecommerce Successes in Idaho An ongoing collection funded by the USDA through the Rural Development Council of Idaho.  See also Two Years of Montpelier Events Awareness-raising events and ecommerce success stories from the two-year effort to create Idaho’s first community success story - in Montpelier, Idaho.

Common Ground: A Cross-Cultural Self-Directed Learner's Internet Guide  Created for USAID, AT&T and the ERIC clearinghouse. An instructional brokerage resource with emphasis on pointing to the best online tutorials, and educational resources, on the Internet for self-directed learning. This is the text for the online course "Making the Best Use of Internet for K-12 Instruction."


This guide is supported by free access to two graduate credit online classes:


      1.   ED 597 4L - Making the Best Use of Internet for K-12 Instruction
Alaska Pacific University Three Semester Credit Version 

2.      ED A597 6L - Designing K-12 Internet Instruction
Alaska Pacific University 3 Semester Credit Version 


Published book chapters and articles

Big Skies and Lone Eagles: Lending Wings to Others, Online - A Rural Perspective  A 20 page history of Frank Odasz written for an upcoming book as a history of online learning from a rural perspective.  

The Future of Community Development; Making the Living You Want, Living Wherever You Want Published by Technopress.

Other published and unpublished articles at