Startup America Blog: Lowering the Barriers to Success

Glen Hellman got his introduction to entrepreneurship straight out of graduating from the University of Maryland in 1978 when he joined Lexitron Corporation, a company who developed the precursor to the PC and the first word processor with a screen. Lexitron quickly went public and was purchased by Raytheon Data Systems and from then on, Hellman has been hooked on start-ups.

After developing and executing the strategic plan that took a small consulting company from $2 million in revenue to a $100 million cash buyout by 3Com, Mr. Hellman began working as a hired-gun, turn-around guy for investors in troubled companies. He quickly found that most turn-around works were more layoffs, tear-downs and asset sales.

Two years ago, Mr. Hellman woke up in a cold sweat after closing down his last company, IntelliPark. “I just knew I couldn’t do another one,” said Hellman. “I was in hospice care, destroying companies, not building, and there was something very wrong with that.” Today, Glen is giving back to entrepreneurs by coaching executives, holding them accountable, and chairing an informal advisory board of people who run businesses for Vistage International. Hellman’s groups are exclusively focused on small and startup businesses.

Hellman believes that access to mentors and advisers who have no agenda other than to help each other, vet each other’s plans and hold each other accountable is essential for any business to thrive and avoid becoming another failed turn-around. He’s working to lower the barriers for startups to gain access to qualified mentorship, coaching and peer group advisory programs.

He’s also devised a creative event that lowers the barriers to access capital that we highlighted in our last blog post, called TweetDingman. TweetDingman, sponsored by Hellman’s firm Driven Forward, teamed with the University of Maryland’s Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship and Brazen Careerist, arranged for angel investors and venture capitalists to monitor Twitter at 11 AM ET on April 8th, when entrepreneurs pitched for capital in the ultimate fast pitch event. Each company was allotted 10 tweets to try and gain the attention of qualified investors and induce them to engage in further due diligence. The judging is in process now, and the winner of the $2,000 prize and the invitees for Brazen Careerist Network Roulette announcement will be made on Friday, April 15th, so stay tuned!