Entrepreneurs Learn How to Network at WPI's December Venture Forum

Contact: WPI Venture Forum, +1-508-831-5075

WORCESTER, Mass. - Connecting with the people who can help you succeed is an essential skill for an entrepreneur. To that end, Worcester Polytechnic Institute's Venture Forum will offer "Networking and Perfecting Your Pitch." The program will be presented by Jack Derby, a speaker well qualified to offer his expertise. The founder of Boston-based Derby Management, he is former chief executive officer of Mayer Electronics Corp. and Datamedix Corp., former president of CB Sports and Litton Industries Medical Systems, and former vice president of Becton Dickinson Medical Systems.

WPI Venture Forum will take place Tuesday, Dec. 19, in Salisbury Laboratories' Kinnicutt Lecture Hall. Registration is at 6 p.m.; the meeting starts at 6:30. The cost is $5 for Venture Forum members and $10 for non-members.

Derby, a member of Mass High Tech's All-Star Team, has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe and The Boston Herald. A speaker at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Enterprise Forum, the Small Business Association of New England and Harvard Business School, he delivers guest lectures at MIT and Boston College's School for Management. He is a director of the Association for Corporate Growth and The Associated Industries of Massachusetts.

At Venture Forum, he will focus on how entrepreneurs can find early investors via networking, the skill of discovering who can help you, who can make a referral and what to say to people about your company. Derby will teach entrepreneurs how to discover the names of people they should meet, how to determine the organizations whose meetings they should attend, how to make initial contact with as many people as possible and how to follow up with particular individuals to set up meetings. In addition, he will coach entrepreneurs in the art of communicating to potential investors the reasons to believe in the businessperson, the company, the products, the market and the potential financial return.

In addition, Venture Forum will offer a business case presentation by Patricia S. Meisner and Jeffrey G. Franklin, co-founders of Advance.com Corp. of Milford, Mass. Meisner and Franklin will outline their business strategy for success in the growing high-tech economy. Advance.com has developed a Web-based tool and Internet-hosted translator service intended to facilitate document and transaction exchange among both large and small businesses.

According to Meisner, 60 to 80 percent of all business-to-business transactions are conducted via electronic data interchange (EDI). While private networks and proprietary software has long targeted the large business owner, Advance.com is about to change that strategy. Advance.com's products and services will make EDI as simple as sending e-mail. For small companies, this means minimal investment and no in-house expertise. Larger commerce partners will more easily maintain trade relationships with smaller associates. Following a networking break, a panel of experts will offer constructive criticism and comments regarding Advance.com's business plan and presentation. Questions from the floor will be accepted.

About the WPI Venture Forum

The WPI Venture Forum was created in 1990 to promote the entrepreneurial spirit and to serve those who engage in technology- based entrepreneurial enterprises by providing advice, support and education tailored to meet their needs. The forum fosters entrepreneurship through such activities as monthly programs, a business plan contest, a weekly radio show on News Radio WTAG (Saturdays, 5-7 pm, 580am), and a monthly newsletter.

The Venture Forum, as part of the Collaborative for Entrepreneurship & Innovation in the Department of Management at WPI, serves individuals who are seeking to begin their own technology-based businesses; founders, presidents, and senior managers of start-up or early-stage companies; senior managers of companies that are restarting or making a transition for one mode of operation to another; and employees leaving large companies due to a reduction in force or to start businesses.