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Resources for Early-Stage Businesses

Q: What resources (mentors, incubators) are there for early stage businesses?

There are a number of organizations that offer mentoring and/or incubator assistance in addition to or as a supplement to financial help for early stage netpreneurs. Here are just a few:

1. The Michael P. Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship's Mentor Program.

You can request information about acquiring a mentor from this program on the Netpreneur Exchange at:

This is also the organization that manages the Baltimore-Washington Venture Group (they have monthly networking breakfasts) and provides business plans to the Private Investors Network (PIN) for review and consideration for presentation at PIN's monthly meeting of accredited investors (angels).

2. The Technology Resource Alliance sponsored by the Center for Innovative Technology and George Mason University is available for a limited number of start-up or early stage companies based in Virginia or willing to relocate to Virginia. In addition to other services, the Technology Resource Alliance offers the following help for financing:

a) Assistance in preparing to seek funds
b) Introduction to potential funding sources
c) Presentation assistance
d) Evaluation and guidance in deal structure and terms

3. The International Business Group (IBG) is a local venture incubator. See information on the Netpreneur Exchange at:

Information about IBG's new CliNET sessions can be found at:

4. As of mid-March of this year, Bill Gross and his team of 14 people at idealab! have invested $5M in seed capital and provided business conceptualization, planning and launch services since last March to start 24 Internet companies (their web site lists 18). Their investment at that time was reportedly valued at $70M, the companies they had helped create were worth more than $220M with over 350 employees.

For your reference, see an article in The Economist at:

The Idealab! web site is at:

5. A netpreneur in our region and the first commercial incubator is the Internet Enterprise Center in Baltimore.

6. The Montgomery County Technology Enterprise Center is funded by Montgomery County, operated by the High Technology Council of Maryland and is located in Rockville, MD. This is where fast-growing, award-winning Visual Networks graduated from. For more information, see

7. Also in Maryland is the University of Maryland's Technology Advancement Program in College Park.

8. Baltimore-Washington Venture Group Business Plan Review Service

9. Northern Virginia Technology Council

10. High Technology Council of Maryland

11. Greater Baltimore Technology Council

12. MIT Enterprise Forum of Washington-Baltimore, Inc.

13. Southern Maryland Small Business Development Center

14. Technical Entrepreneurs Intrapreneurs Network (TEIN) Contact Avi Dey at

Here are some of Greater Washington Start-Up Business Assistance Web Resources:

1. University of Maryland One Stop Shop for Business Assistance

2. Maryland Technology Resources

3. "How to Write a Great Business Plan" in the July/August issue of the Harvard Business Review. It's good reading with some solid no-nonsense guidance. $10 for 3 copies -- well worth it.

4. "From Invention to Innovation: Commercialization of New Technology by Independent and Small Business Inventors"

5. A free business plan template that is geared towards the "information technology industry."

6. MoneyHunter's business plan review service ($495)

7. IdeaCafe

8. The Netpreneur Exchange (another shameless plug)


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