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Silicon Valley venture capitalists estimate that about 40% of startups have one or more immigrant founders. Sequoia Capital has a $3M venture fund specifically catering to such people, built with $100K each from 30 immigrant entrepreneurs. (Sequoia itself has another $150M invested in software and telecommunications.) Sequoia's immigrant entrepreneurs are said to be especially frugal, hard-working, technically knowledgeable, and willing to fight or take risks, but are often weak in marketing and finance. [Scott Herhold, SJM, 22Oct97, 1C.]

New Venture Match is a Menlo Park monthly dinner-and- discussion forum linking Bay area startups and venture capitalists. It's being restarted after a two-year hiatus, and will focus this year on interactive, digital media/multimedia, and Internet companies. A panel of 2-3 experts will critique each business presentation. Admission is $25-$35. Pat Pickford , 415-593-6603, 415-593-6623 Fax. [Fred Lam , 08Oct97. Bill Park.]

The MIT Club of Northern California is starting a Venture Incubator '98 program, to support technical and non-technical startups. (No MIT affiliation is needed.) The process helps entrepreneurs form a founding team -- via Web-based networking and bimonthly mixers -- and develop opportunity concepts, then works with them to develop realistic business plans. See for scheduled presentations and workshops. [, (408) 544-7169; BASES, 17Oct97. Bill Park.]

Silicon Valley resources for entrepreneurs include the Center for Software Development (San Jose) and various business networking opportunities through the Software Forum, ACM, IEEE, the MIT alumni club, and perhaps other alumni groups. Stanford offers entrepreneurial training and networking, plus great discounts on software at the student bookstore. There's a Business Association for Stanford Engineering Students (BASES) organization to host lectures, workshops, job fairs, and other events. Stanford and MIT also host a monthly "public haircut" for an entrepreneur willing to bare his or her business problems in return for [sometimes brutal] free advice. [Bill Park , 14Oct97.]

The Software Forum's monthly dinner meeting at the Elk's Club is a gentler affair, with an invited speaker talking about technological or business advances. It's $40 for nonmembers, $25 for members. Bring business cards for the pre-dinner schmoozing session at the bar. The crowd will include entrepreneurs, programmers, intellectual property lawyers, advertising execs, venture capitalists such as Ann Winblad, and ex-CEOs looking for new companies. . [Bill Park , 14Oct97.]

Bill also suggests reading Robert J. Kunze's "Nothing Ventured: The Perils and Payoffs of the Great American Venture Capital Game" (HarperBusiness, 1990), possibly available in a second edition, and Sandra L. Kurtzig's "CEO: Building a $400 Million Company from the Ground Up" (Harvard Business School Press, 1994). A good approach is to team with your first customer to get early feedback in return for a free site licence or other really good deal. VCs love to see a business plan that already has a customer.

Berkeley has a women's entrepreneurial group called Digital Dames, for Silicon Valley CEOs and executives. Christine Comaford of PlanetU started the meetings a year ago, with a buffet format that includes "great food (mostly take-out), better desserts, and a circle of chairs" every six weeks or so. Each participant must introduce herself and then say what it is she currently needs. "You could never have a similar group of male computer CEOs. They wouldn't share their problems, weaknesses, and fears. Besides, they'd all just bring beer." [AP. SJM, 08Sep97, 11E.]