It's Going to be a Happy New Year for Entrepreneurs

by francine Hardaway on December 29, 2005

Four years ago, I was listening to NPR and I heard a program underwritten by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, which referred to itself as “the foundation of entrepreneurship.” I had never heard of Ewing Marion Kauffman or his foundation, even though Stealthmode Partners ( was heavily engaged in fostering entrepreneurship and referred to itself as either “the entrepreneur’s advocate” or “scaffolding for startups.”

my usual nosy manner, I went to the Foundation’s website,, and scanned the programs. Among the internships for students, the college programs, and the grants to organizations, I saw the Fasttrac programs, the only ones targeted at the entrepreneur him/herself. Fasttrac teaches people how to be successful as entrepreneurs, covering every issue involved in running a business and providing connections to community resources.( Wondering who dispensed this largesse in Arizona, I picked up the phone to call.

And that is how I became involved with the Foundation and its magnificent efforts to create self-sufficiency through entrepreneurship.

First, I found that no one offered the Fasttrac programs in Arizona, so Ed and I went to Kansas City and became trained, and Stealthmode became the southwest headquarters for these programs, which include everything from a half day seminar “Listening to Your Business” to a full on mentoring program called “Fasttrac Tech” that helps get new technology to market.

We began offering two of the programs, Fasttrac New Venture and Fasttrac Planning, and have put over 120 entrepreneurs through these programs with the help of the City of Phoenix, Merrill Lynch, Rogers and Theobald, the Business Journal, and this year, Ribomed.

About the same time I got involved in Kauffman’s activities, the Foundation itself began to change. It got more interested in high growth businesses, and reformulated all its giving guidelines and internal activities accordingly.

Two years ago, it formed the Angel Capital Association, an association of Angel Capital networks. That association has morphed into an industry association for Angel Capital Groups, and is committed to best practices and networking. Some of the goals of the Angel Capital Association are to co-invest with other members of the network, to share best practices, and obviously to maximize the return on the investments of angels.

Obviously the biggest goal is to get more resources into startups, using angels as the vehicles. But if the unwary, uneducated, but well-meaning angels lose their investments, as many did before 2001, they will go away and never come back. So now Kauffman is also committed to making the angels successful.

A research and education group, the Capital Angel Education Foundation, has also emerged to work alongside the ACA. This program will help teach people with money and interest in entrepreneurship how to form an angel group and how to evaluate investments.

Kauffman also reformulated all its programs, from New Venture, which has become focussed on starting a business, and Planning, which has become “Growing Your Business” to the new Fasttrac Tech Venture, which is entirely for businesses with protectable intellectual property, new technology, and the ability to generate high paying jobs if successful.

So for us the New Year is going to be very exciting. Stealthmode’s goal is to participate in these programs to the max, explore where they can help our entrepreneurs, and spread the best of the programs from Arizona, where I live, to California, where I visit and see just as great a need. We are in the process of forming a not-for-profit, the Opportunity Through Entrepreneurship Foundation, to participate more closely with some of our partners, including the City of Phoenix.

From Kauffman, look for more exciting news to come. And from us, look for Fasttrac Tech and the spread of entrepreneurship and success. Look for me to travel more and report about how people support themselves and their families around the world, chiefly through my work with the Foundation for Global Leadership (

Naturally, if you want to collaborate or partner with us to help us, our arms are open–no pride of ownership here, this is a worldwide effort to build sustainable economies through entrepreneurship. We need all the help we can get. Happy New Year!

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