Paragon Lake Out to Dazzle Jewelry Buyers with Virtual Customization

5/19/09Follow @bbuderi

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the the idea she could make a difference by drawing on her experience, while also doing something new. “The consumer side is what’s new for me. I think I’ve done every other kind of software, so this is really exciting for me,” Besemer says. “You always want to have an element of learning.”

Besemer calls the virtual display Phase One of the company’s plan. Paragon Lake is still signing up stores. The trick is to make sure the company grows fast, only not too fast. “There’s a backlog now of getting the stores trained,” she explains. “Right now, it’s much more about quality and learning than it is about quantity. Next year will be about quantity.”

Which brings us to Phase Two—bringing the same consumer experience directly into the home via the Internet, something she wants to do by next Mother’s Day (besides the holidays, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day are the biggest jewelry shopping days).

Besemer acknowledges that many jewelry companies sell online already. But, she says, “That I would call your sort of Web 1.0 experience, if you will. And your Web 2.0 is your ability to personalize something.” The customization aspect is universally missing from online sales, she says.

As she sails out onto Paragon Lake, Besemer pointed to two big lessons she’s learned. “Focus is more important than anything–staying focused,” she says. This doesn’t mean remaining focused on one thing, but knowing when it is appropriate to put your focus on something new. “It’s a common CEO mistake to try to build an application or enter a new market before you’ve got the first one nailed,” she says.

CEOs should also think about the balance sheet, and not just profit and loss, from the start, Besemer says. She learned a lesson in frugality from Ikea back in her Lotus days. There was a big conference in Amsterdam, she says, and the entire Ikea contingent took the train 20 minutes away to stay in a cheap hotel. At Paragon Lake, she says, “we will be sharing hotel rooms. We will be staying in these offices. I will use the laptop that I bought for myself a couple years ago.”

Both Besemer and Lauzon say they are in Paragon Lake for the long haul, not a quick sale. “We really believe there’s an opportunity to build a premium consumer Internet brand here in Boston,” says Lauzon, “the kind of company that folks here in Boston, and folks thinking about coming to Boston, get very excited about.”

Bob is Xconomy's founder and editor in chief. You can e-mail him at bbuderi@xconomy.com, call him at 617.500.5926. Follow @bbuderi

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