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NEWS at The Entrepreneur Center @NVTC

Kristin Seitz Interviewed by TiE-DC

Kristin Seitz, Director of The Entrepreneur Center @NVTC

When was the Entrepreneur Center founded and why?

The Entrepreneur Center @NVTC is a project of the Northern Virginia Technology Council. Due to the sponsorship and exceptional support of U.S. Congressman Frank Wolf, NVTC was awarded an earmarked federal grant in 2004 to develop a technology entrepreneur center that will serve as a model for other centers around the country.

The Entrepreneur Center is a resource hub for technology-focused start-ups and entrepreneurs at every stage of their lifecycle. We foster entrepreneurship in students, mentor the first-time entrepreneur, advise and support the experienced entrepreneur, and facilitate strategic business relationships in the technology community.

I was appointed the director of the Entrepreneur Center in November of 2007. Previously, I was NVTC's public policy manager for three and a half years.

What are some of your most successful programs?

The Entrepreneur Center has two core programs from which all of our other activities stem. The first is Entrepreneur SOLUTIONS, which provides start-ups and entrepreneurs with the unique opportunity to connect with seasoned veterans of the region's technology sector. The program supports entrepreneurs through a variety of mentoring, coaching and advisory sessions and programs.

TEConnect, our second core program, assists small- and medium-sized NVTC member companies in connecting with larger companies, NVTC members and non-members alike, in both the business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-government (B2G) markets-and vice versa, through an online matchmaking database.

To learn more about these two programs and all of our other activities and resources, visit our Web site at http://tec.nvtc.org.

Could you tell us more about Entrepreneur SOLUTIONS?

Entrepreneur SOLUTIONS is designed to give entrepreneurs a unique opportunity to connect with seasoned veterans of the Greater Washington technology sector - from a wide array of fields-and is tailored to provide the support needed at every phase of early-stage businesses. We are fortunate and thankful to have wonderful advisors from a wide range of business backgrounds who help us make this program successful.

Entrepreneur SOLUTIONS offers three programs:

Mentoring: The Mentoring Program matches entrepreneurs with an experienced professional who can provide them with advice and guidance on developing their business plan and connect them to other resources and opportunities in the business community.

Coaching:The Coaching Program matches young companies and their teams with experienced business people who can help refine their business plans and strategy as well as grow their management team. Coaches can give guidance on the preparation/or enhancement of their elevator pitch, executive summary, detailed financials and presentation.

Advisory Sessions: On a selected basis, for entrepreneurs who have gone through other coaching and for whom team advising makes the best sense, we can assemble a cross-functional team of seasoned professionals drawn from a pool of advisors, whose backgrounds may include accounting, legal services, business planning, sales and marketing, and financing, among others.

What advice would you give to an Emerging Entrepreneur?

I would emphasize that it is important to connect with individuals who have been "in their shoes" and who know what they are going through during the various stages of starting a new technology business. Mentors and advisors can be invaluable when it comes to answering questions, providing advice and helping entrepreneurs successfully navigate the maze of a establishing a start-up.

The Entrepreneur Center @NVTC collaborates with TiE-DC on the VC Elevator Pitch Dinner series. What feedback have you received on this program from your members?

Our members have found the VC Elevator Pitch series to be very rewarding. They have told us that they appreciated the opportunity to really work on finalizing and communicating their business plans and to receive feedback from experts who hear pitches everyday-and know a good one from a bad one. We are pleased that a large number of our members have been able to participate in the series and have been successful in the competitions.

Is there anything else you would like to share with TiE-DC?

The Entrepreneur Center could not be successful without all of the other organizations in the National Capital Region that also support the entrepreneurial community. There are many groups striving to help entrepreneurs-no matter what stage in their professional lifecycles--and when we all work together on this same objective, wonderful results can happen-new innovations in the marketplace to solve a variety of business, social and economic challenges, and continued growth in the technology economy in the region and the nation, as a whole.

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