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Need a Mentor for Your Startup? Check Out New SBA Initiative

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) today launched an initiative to mobilize members of the current generation of successful business owners to mentor and support startups and entrepreneurs to help them become the next generation of great American companies.

As part of the White House’s Startup America initiative, the Entrepreneurial Mentor Corps (EMC) aims to support more than 1,000 startup and early-stage firms across the country. SBA is partnering with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in identifying organizations and mentoring best practices for the EMC program.

In addition, the SBA Administrator Karen Mills announced one of the first initiatives of EMC, a pilot program that will match mentors with 100 startups in the clean energy sector.

“Who better for entrepreneurs and startups to learn from than individuals who have been down a similar path before,” Mills said. “Mentors can provide valuable insights critical to their success; from opportunities for financing, advice on hiring to even walking an entrepreneur through steps for taking a product or idea into the commercial market. The Entrepreneurial Mentor Corps will mobilize some of the best and brightest business leaders to help create the opportunities for success, drive innovation and spur job creation across the country.”

Through EMC’s clean energy pilot, four regional “accelerators” will identify and match mentors with 100 clean energy startups, to help them quickly grow their revenue, create jobs and attract outside financing while avoiding pitfalls that frequently challenge startups. Accelerators are organizations that offer services ranging from mentoring and technical assistance to business guidance and focused networking.

The EMC clean energy pilot is a partnership between SBA, the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). Initially, eligibility for the clean energy pilot will be limited to startups that have already received funding from either DOE or ARPA-E.

The four accelerators funded in the initial stage of the project include:

•    CleanTech Open (Bay Area and New England);

•    CleanTECH San Diego (Southern California and the Southwest);

•    Clean Energy Trust (Midwest); and,

•    Nevada Institute for Renewable Energy Commercialization (Mountain Region).

Through the partnership between SBA and the Kauffman Foundation, Startup America’s EMC program  will work to create mentoring initiatives across many industry sectors with a target of helping more than 1,000 entrepreneurs annually. The program will also help build a nationwide network of mentors, accelerators and successful startups.