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TEN program provides skills to entrepreneurs

Having owned a firm since 2001, Wendy Brabon had learned business lessons mainly by trial and error. 

A heavy reader and advocate of continuing education, Brabon recently enrolled in the Entrepreneurs Network to enhance her business skills. She was impressed with the program, which began with lessons on how to write and present a business plan. 

"I was so pumped after my first two days of class," said Brabon, CEO of Rochester-based Ignite Worldwide Inc., an Internet consulting firm. "I had a clear direction of where we were going to take the business and steps to get there." 

Brabon is one of some 130 regional executives who have participated in TEN since it was founded in 2006. The network was designed to bolster economic growth.

The program’s eighth class is slated to start this month and run through December. The deadline to apply is Sept. 15, and the fee is $350. 

TEN provides companies from the Buffalo, Ithaca, Rochester and Syracuse areas with access to national experts and funding resources. It offers practical, hands-on programs that train, educate and foster connections critical for building successful new ventures, Executive Director Jean Kase said. 

Candidates for TEN should be founders, senior executives, CEOs or those who hold a controlling position in an early-stage technology, life science or scalable, high-revenue-potential company, she said. The businesses should have been operating less than 10 years, have annual revenue of less than $10 million, and have operations primarily in Upstate New York. Established companies involved in ownership transition and spinoffs from university research departments and large employers are eligible. 

TEN’s founding sponsor is Monroe County, and it also is sponsored by the County of Monroe Industrial Development Agency and Finger Lakes Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development. 

"TEN has produced incredible results for its graduated members by helping them interact directly with top local and national experts on a variety of topics designed to enhance their business operations," said Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks in a statement. 

The upcoming TEN schedule is led by Boston-based Derby Management LLC, which offers two "boot camps" on entrepreneurship and sales effectiveness. TEN offers two additional boot camps designed to sharpen a firm’s focus on strategy, marketing and profitability, its leaders said. The network also organizes private roundtable discussions and "Lunch & Learn" networking events for its alumni and strategic partners. 

John Squilla, chief technology officer of VueMax LLC, participated in TEN last year. He said he was impressed by how the instructors’ experiences were woven into the curriculum and by the variety of subjects available. The connections and contacts would be difficult to get elsewhere, he added. 

"To get the level of experienced assistance that the teachers offer (or) provide would cost thousands of dollars in consulting fees," Squilla said. 

VueMax continuously uses the tools provided by TEN, he said, noting that the business plan template has been especially useful. 

"We plan to make additional use of the contacts at TEN and found their assistance and willingness to help an extraordinary benefit," Squilla said. 

For more information on TEN, go to www.ten-ny.org. 

adeckert@rbj.net / 585-546-8303


09/04/09 (C) Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303.


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