Tracking an $800 billion market
Wood River Technologies uses a smart Web site and efficient search
engines to tap a giant government market
"Governments buy everything that has ever been made and every
service ever performed."
Richard White, Chief executive, Wood River Technologies
By PETER BOLTZ
Express Staff Writer
Making Wood River Technologies tick, from left to right, standing: Dick
White, chief executive and president; Eric Aaserud, vice president; Tom Luparello, vice
president. Sitting: Left, April Ellinwood, controller; and Amy Spain, marketing director.
Express photos by Willy Cook
Twenty years ago, when Richard White was building a government computer
services company, Program Resources, Inc., in Washington, D.C., it never occurred to him
to build a new business in Ketchum which would also service government offices in
But today, hes doing just that.
Wood River Technologies, located over Silverado Western Wear on Main
Street, is an Internet business which gathers information on services and products the
federal government is seeking to buy. This information is, in turn, sold on a Web site
named fedmarket.com to vendors who subscribe to the service.
White, 61, the firms chief executive, and his partners and vice
presidents, Eric Aaserud, 35, and Thomas Luparello, 36, started Wood River Technologies
five years ago.
"Governments buy everything that has ever been made," White
said, "and every service ever performed."
This is the foundation of the $800 billion dollar market Wood River
Technologies is helping to serve.
Fedmarket.com offers several services to those looking to sell to a
government entity. Three of these are Bidengine, Construction Projects and IT Bids.
Bidengine is a search engine like Yahoo or Lycos except it searches a
smaller field more intensely. It "finds bid and proposal opportunities posted by
international, federal, state, city and county governments, along with universities,
school districts, public buying cooperatives and large companies that have chosen to post
their business opportunities on the web."
Construction Projects is another specialized search engine which
"locates and tracks construction opportunities on federal, state and local government
Web sites." It also allows subscribers "to track which projects other companies
are bidding on and keep up with the competition."
IT Bids is a third specialized search engine that "scours the
Internet and locates web-based bid opportunities" for information technology
Another part of Wood River Technologies is Web design. According to
Aaserud, the companys vice president of content and business development, this part
of the business is focused on the valley.
The philosophy here, he said, "is to make clean, professional
looking, easy to navigate and aesthetically pleasing sites."
Some of their web clients are Walrus Gear, Scott USA and the city of
Designed by Technologies Mike Hone, Walrus Gear won Site of the Week
from the Menlo Park, Calif.-based magazine Communication Arts on Feb. 6.
One of the things the magazine lauds the site for is that it "is a
simple, straightforward and easy-to-navigate online catalog that assists people with
finding what they need quickly and easily."
Communication Arts continues:
"The Web is all about providing alternative ways to get information
and this site is a great example of how to furnish it."
A third part of Wood River Technologies is its Internet service
White likes to say he has a laymans viewpoint of Internet service,
and that Luparello, his vice president of technology development, is the technical expert.
"The slowest Internet service in use is a modem-based dial-up
service," White said. "A dial-up service is inherently limited to 56K."
A modem allows the digital signals of a computer to be converted to analog
signals which can be transmitted across a phone line. A modem working at 56K means it can
transmit 56,000 digital bytes per second.
While SVidaho.net offers this kind of dial-up service, it also offers a
service 20 times faster than the 56K which dial-up can providewireless.
The speed of wireless versus dial-up is "the difference between
discernible waiting and instantaneous response," said White. In other words, users
never feel like they are waiting for their computers to respond to their commands.
White said, "You put an antenna on your roof, and we put an antenna
on our roof. The speed of the radio signal which runs between these two antennae runs at
T1 speed, or 1.2 megabytes per second." This is 20 times the speed of a 56K modem.
A T1 line is a dedicated fiber optic phone line that the phone company
runs straight to a business or a residence.
"The downside to wireless," said White, "is that we have to
have a reasonably direct line of sight between the two antennae." Additionally, there
is a limited broadcast range of roughly three miles.
Luparello answered questions about the reliability of the radio signals
used in wireless.
"If there was a big enough storm, or a big enough bird on the
antenna, it is conceivable the signal would be affected," he said.
But even if there was an effect, he said, "it would not be like
cutting the line." You would see the effect "as a slowdown, not an
Wood River Technologies itself is showing no signs of slowing down. In
fact, the company is expecting to hire in the near future, according to White.
White says that salaries may not be equal to what can be found in major
cities for comparable jobs, but he does assure applicants that "working hours at the
company are flexible so the mountain enthusiasts among the staff can take advantage of the
outdoor opportunities in the valley."