Internet Specialists "on the Web since '94"

About First Online Los Altos Incubator
Authors of the best-selling book Engineering Your Start-up: A Guide for the High-Tech Entrepreneur, we are management consultants providing professional advice for promising high-tech and Internet-related start-ups, primarily in the San Francisco Silicon Valley Bay Area.

Contact Information
Jim Swanson (resumejswanson@[remove]

Mike Baird (resume) (newer resume mike@[remove]  Phone (805) 704-2064;  2756 Indigo Circle, Morro Bay, CA  93442  more...

History.  We really were one of the "first online!"  Our predecessor company, First Online, Inc., a California corporation from 1993-1999, was one of the world's first Internet Professional Services and Access Providers, developing some of the first commercial web sites -- such as one for FMC Corporation's Automotive Service Equipment Division in early 1994 -- long before the World Wide Web took off.  Specializing in the automotive industry, we produced custom Internet-related systems for Toyota, Mitsubishi, Volkswagen, Firestone, Penske, Mazda, Hyundai, Chrysler, and Edge Diagnostic Systems, now a subsidiary of Snap-on Incorporated.  We have since, through our Los Altos Incubator, incubated several Internet-related start-ups. 

Los Altos Incubator helps new high-tech and Internet-related companies formulate and implement viable business strategies.  We play the role of strategic advisors and coaches, serving as board members when appropriate.  Our most salient projects to-date are GetActive Software, Multrix, and Hipbone (Hipbone was acquired by Kana Q1 2004; Eric Schmidt and Ben Rosen were investors in Hipbone).  Most of our deal flow and projects derive from encounters with readers of our books on starting hi-tech companies.  A completely new 2003 2nd edition of Engineering Your Start-up, by Swanson and Baird is now available.  is a shortcut to the related page at, or buy from our PPI publisherHere is a flyer describing EYSU2.  The entire book was previously published online at While those chapters have been removed, you can still find several sample chapters at PPI, and see these related PowerPoint presentations of interest.  We work with only one or two clients at any point in time in order to adequately focus on "home run candidates."

We provide

  • Free evaluation of your business plan.  Submit an executive summary to jswanson@[remove] and mike@[remove]  Do not include a non-disclosure agreement as a condition for reviewing your plan.
  • Jim Swanson's and Mike Baird's advice and coaching.  We cover strategy, contracts and negotiations, business plans, investor relations, partner and customer and professional service provider relations, etc.  In return, we receive an equity interest in the start-up and/or (deferred) compensation.
Past and Present Clients:

GetActive Software, Inc.
previously LocusPocus 6/2001

Meritage Technologies
Foci Technologies 2/1/2001

Hipbone acquired by Kana Q1 2004


1994-2015 First Online, previously First Online, Inc.     First Online ™ and Los Altos Incubator™ are trademarks of First Online 
Revised  04 May 2015  
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