DURHAM – American Underground, a startup hub and a partner with Google’s entrepreneurs program, is launching a mentoring program as well as expanding other services.

American Underground

“The overarching philosophy of the mentors program is to help our founders engage in early customer discovery, engagement, and acquisition, and use that intel to generate revenue traction with optimal use of available tools and resources,” says AU Executive Director Doug Speight.  “They’ll focus on solid fundamentals and linking small wins together toward milestones. That’s the essence of launching and building a successful company.”

Dubbed the “Mentors Lounge,” the service is available to all AU companies.

Other new offerings include:

  • An awards show that will be launched at its upcoming annual meeting spotlighting member companies
  • A streamlined web portal that is customizable to the “needs and interests of each membership company “

AU has already put together a team of 11 “seasoned, Triangle-based executives with relevant expertise.”

They are: Tom Collopy, Julie Bryce, Laura Fjeld, Dave Neal, Frank Pollock, Deborah Stroman, Scott Barstow, Sri Venkataraman, Esther Campi, Jan Davis, Kurt Merriweather.

A focus of the group will be helping AU clients increase revenue. More than 80 percent of clients are generating revenue, the AU says.

They will offer a mix of strategic, financial, operating, technical and marketing advice and will be available a minimum of four hours per month.

Mentors also will vote in the AU Awards program known as “The Undies.” Winners will be announced at AU’s annual year-end program on Dec. 5.

Cateogires include: Brand Developer of the Year, Scrappiest Startup, Corporate Citizen of the Year, Growth Award, Fundraiser of the Year, Startup of the Year, CEO/Founder of the Year, and Undergrounder of the Year.

The web portal will include a directory, room booking, information about perks and resources, events, mentorship, affinity groups and communications.

American Underground is part of Capitol Broadcasting, which also is the corporate parent of WRAL TechWire.