Editor’s note: Bill Warner writes “The Angel Connection” which is a regular feature in WRAL Local Tech Wire. LTW asked consultant Bill Warner to share advice for entrepreneurs seeking angel investors and/or venture capital investment. He is also chairman of the Triangle Accredited Capital Forum, an angel investor network with members throughout the Southeast.

By Bill Warner, special to LTW

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Emerging entrepreneurs can now get the help they need to “connect the dots” to whatever agencies, organizations, companies, people and resources they need in order to get their businesses up and running and on a track to success.

Business Mentoring Connects the Dots

just announced their newly formed non-profit business mentoring organization. It is made up of experienced business executives who volunteer their time to mentor entrepreneurs through the early stages of market entry and business operations, all at no cost to the entrepreneur.

Focused on rural communities in North Carolina, our objective is to increase the chances of entrepreneurial success by helping them create high impact companies.

EntreDot is funded with the assistance of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. The newly formed business mentoring organization that is committed to ensuring entrepreneurial success. It is made up of seasoned business executives who volunteer their time to assist entrepreneurs by mentoring them through the early stages of market entry and by advising existing businesses on strategies for long-term sustainability, all at no cost to the entrepreneur.

“We are financed by a generous grant from the , and our ongoing operation will be funded by further grants and contributions,” adds Elaine Rideout, one of our co-founders and directors.

There is a tremendous opportunity to improve the chances of success of early stage companies by advising entrepreneurs on effective leadership, management and operational know-how. Increased jobs and business revenue will be our measure of success.

I am a co-founder and the executive director of EntreDot.

“Once entrepreneurs have gotten appropriate entrepreneurship education and have performed the initial business planning, they often need ongoing help in order to actually start and operate their businesses. We fill that need by sharing our wisdom and connecting them to whatever resource they need,” adds Brad Lienhart, the co-founder and director.

Comprehensive Mentoring Services

The mentoring services for entrepreneurs include:

• Advising entrepreneurs on their ideas and concepts in their formative phases
• Determining the research needed to understand their markets
• Nurturing and refining ideas and concepts as potential growth businesses
• Developing an effective business model and business strategy
• Helping put structure around business ideas, strategies, and business plans
• Indentifying all internal and external stakeholders and their needs
• Identifying marketing, sales, prototyping and financing opportunities
• Providing guidance on governance and protecting intellectual property
• Providing management guidance on business decision making
• Referring entrepreneurs to business resources throughout North Carolina

EntreDot Has Already Started

Here’s some feedback from some of our early efforts:

“EntreDot” has helped me get needed focus on my market opportunity as well as marketing and sales plans, all helping to put us on a positive revenue growth path,” said Larry Larson, CEO of , an early recipient of EntreDot mentoring.

“EntreDot” fills a gap between the more academic aspects to entrepreneurship and the real life “rubber meets the road” experience, advice, guidance and contacts that only a true veteran of the business world can offer. Two of our local entrepreneurs are already working with EntreDot with many more in the months to come,” adds Tim Will, executive director, of in Rutherfordton.

“We are pleased that EntreDot will assist businesses in Martin County. Small businesses are the backbone of the economy. As EntreDot helps individual businesses find opportunities, the Martin County economy becomes stronger,” said Marvin Davis, executive director,

EntreDot Can Reach Any Entrepreneur Anywhere

Some of our other co-founders offer their own observation about the group’s capabilities and objective:

“Our mentors establish long term relationships with entrepreneurs to help them develop their business ideas, find the resources they need and advise them on how to successfully manage their businesses,” adds Bill Sarine, EntreDot’s co-founder and director of entrepreneur operations.

“The beauty of our mentoring services is that we perform them all online, utilizing state-of-the art community collaboration technologies that reach out to mentors, other business professionals, partners, and a broad array of business resources,” adds Chares Bratton, a EntreDot director.

“We are reaching out to entrepreneurs in rural counties in North Carolina. Although we can mentor anyone in the state, our focus is on creating jobs and prosperity in distressed areas first,” said Neal Hill, another of our co-founders and director of entrepreneur support.

Entrepreneurs can contact us through the EntreDot Web site.

About the author: Bill Warner is the Managing Partner of , a business consulting firm in the Research Triangle Park area of central North Carolina, is the chairman of the , an angel investor network with members throughout the southeast, and is the Executive Director of EntreDot, a business mentoring organization.