MAY 15, 2000
COVER STORY -- E.BIZ -- THE E.BIZ 25

By: Darnell Little


Mohanbir Sawhney


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Northwestern University
----------
Position: Professor at Kellogg Graduate School of Management

Contribution: Influential writer on business-to-business Net trading hubs. Put theories to work as an adviser to startups such as Commerx and EthnicGrocer.com.

Challenge: To flesh out his theories in an upcoming book.

Mohanbir Sawhney is a John Maynard Keynes for the Net age: A theorist ready to bet on his ideas. The Northwestern University business professor advises 25 companies while writing pacesetting predictions of how business-to-business e-commerce will work. ''Working with startups, helping them refine their business models, gives you a laboratory to test your theories,'' he says.

Sawhney, 36, burst on the scene last September when an article he co-authored, ''Let's Get Vertical,'' was published in Business 2.0 magazine. ''Vertical'' explained the mechanics of e-marketplaces, promoted the idea of neutral hubs where buyers and sellers get equal treatment, and explained why B2B online commerce will be much bigger than e-tailing. Many experts consider it the first easy-to-grasp description of B2B marketplaces. ''It's the bible of business-to-business,'' says Greg T. Buchholz, president of the chemicals, plastics and paper exchange FOB.com, where Sawhney is on an advisory board.

Sawhney understands how business and technology work together: He's an engineer who studied marketing after moving to the U.S. in 1989. His book, Marketing in the Network Economy, should be finished by yearend. And when clients put the book's ideas into action, Sawhney will be waiting. He takes his consulting fees in stock.




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