RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Since its launch 5 ½ years ago, WRAL Local Tech Wire has made coverage of entrepreneurs, inventors, researchers and those who finance them its primary mission. Today, we launch a new feature with the intention of providing additional information that we believe will prove helpful to those people who want to start a business or want to commercialize a product or invention.

Whether the field is high tech or life science, consumer or business-to-business, inventors and entrepreneurs are always looking for help to turn ideas into real products and real businesses.

“RTP Product Pipeline,” as written by Montie Roland and Thomas Vass, the co-founders of The RTP Product Development Guild, will hopefully provide needed insight, suggestions and solutions. The purpose of the Guild is to provide consultancy services to startups and small companies across a wide variety of specialties. Roland is president of the Carolinas Chapter of the Product Development Management Association, and Vass is an investment advisor and owner of Private Capital Market, an Internet-based private equity firm. Their column will appear on Tuesdays.

Although titled "RTP," this feature is designed to help entrepreneurs and others regardless of geographic region.

Last week, we launched the “Angel Connection” with the goal of helping entrepreneurs better understand the ins and outs of angel financing. We’ll be adding more features in the near future.

We talked with Vass about the reasons to launch Product Pipeline – and what he and Roland hope to accomplish.

“We want to create an open forum on new product technology commercialization,” Vass said. “One important secret to both new product development and new venture entrepreneurial initiatives is an open knowledge platform where the greatest number of participants possible share new ideas. Along those same lines, no single professional group or organization has all the skills required to help entrepreneurs commercialize their ideas so our blog will draw from multiples skills and disciplines.

If you haven’t heard of the “Fuzzy Front End,” you will in this column. The fuzzy front end is the period of time prior to commercialization where the entrepreneur is testing out ideas for getting the product to the market.

“We are attempting to create a more coherent organizational format for entrepreneurs to find a comprehensive set of advisors,” Vass said. “One of our main goals for entrepreneurs is to keep their cash outlay low during the six months of the Fuzzy Front End. Our big goal is to have them successfully commercialize their venture and to obtain the wealth and profits that are associated with their ventures.”

Vass and Roland believe that the Triangle as well as other regions in the country are missing out on new businesses, additional jobs and more wealth because too many entrepreneurs are not getting the assistance they need.

“[T]he problems we have in RTP are the very same in all of the 250 metro regions in America,” Vass said. “The format for commercialization for a regional economy is different than the product innovation process inside of large corporations. Most regions do not have a strategic management system in place like a corporate strategic policy and the government and non-profit agencies are not a viable substitute for private sector leadership. Our region, like most regions, has too much government and politics and not enough private sector leadership.”

Bottom line for “Product Pipeline” is to help provide insight and direction to help get more new ventures started on the way to commercial success.

“We want to create the maximum amount of wealth and distribute the benefits of that wealth as widely as possible,” Vass said. “We will achieve success when we create a threshold effect in new product development and new venture creation that leads to self-sustaining regional economic development.”