WPI Venture Forum: The Importance of Business Directors and Advisors

Contact: Arlie Corday, WPI Media & Community Relations

WORCESTER, Mass. - Just as a ship cannot sail without a captain, neither can a business remain afloat without its board of directors. Jerome J. Schaufeld, president and CEO of Mass Ventures in Hadley, Mass., will demonstrate the positive influence a competent board of directors can have on a company's valuation, profitability and operating effectiveness at the Tuesday, March 21 WPI Venture Forum. The program is held in Salisbury Labs' Kinnicutt Lecture Hall on the Worcester Polytechnic Institute campus. Registration is at 6 p.m.; the program begins at 6:30. Admission is $5 for members and $10 for non-members.

Schaufeld has a wealth of firsthand knowledge in successfully building enterprises. He has been a board member of six technology-based manufacturing companies, is involved with the National Association of Corporate Directors, co-founded Phoenix Controls Corp., and founded the MIT Enterprise Forum.

A board's contribution to early-stage companies is often overlooked in the process of launching an enterprise, according to Schaufeld. He points out that an effective board can be pivotal to the success of the company and can provide valuable resources to investors and management. The same rules apply, he adds, regarding board governance, accountability and management support in the "dot-com" business world.

Each Venture Forum features a new business case presentation. This March, Chris Condron, president and CEO of The Northern Group (TNG), will present his business. Established on New Year's Day 1999, TNG provides fully integrated testing services to inbound call centers. This enterprise claims to provide "the necessary resources to understand, plan and implement your computer telephony (CT) testing needs in any CT environment."

Condron is targeting dial-in call centers with a minimum of 10 and maximum of 25 seats, preferably those at the planning stage, to ensure increased sales within nine to 12 months. He suggests his company's services would benefit help desks, account information departments, registration centers, call center outsourcers, insurance companies, HMO's, medical services, financial institutions, retail centers, mail-order businesses and maintenance companies.

Condron has found a significant demand for TNG services. Customers include Glenayre, Lucent, Sprint, Prudential, Vanguard, Frontier and American-Skandia.

"We have used only sweat equity up to now," he says. TNG is seeking its first round of financing in an amount to be determined. "We are looking to find a growth curve to match our needs and theirs," he adds, in reference to a venture capital firm.

Sean Slattery, TNG's founder, and Shannon Slate, relative newcomer to the company, will join Condron in this presentation. TNG is Condron's third start-up effort.

Among those critiquing Condron's case presentation will be Nancy B. Carey, president of MRC Telecommunications, and guest speaker Jerome Schaufeld. Carey leads telecommunications and technology companies through periods of disruptive market, regulatory and technology changes. She has experience in voice, data and video ventures and in private and public companies. Most recently she led the successful turnaround of Weather Services Corp., an Internet content company.

For more information about Venture Forum, contact Sarah Ribeiro at WPI at 508-831-5075 or visit www.wpiventureforum.org.