Tech entrepreneur mentoring program kicks off in Bay Area

The Tech Futures Group provides free hand-holding for tech entrepreneurs who want to start something but don't know how. It's funded by a mix of government money and grants.

Silicon Valley may catapult itself forward with its flair for all things entrepreneurial, but that attitude isn't something everyone's born with.

The Tech Futures Group says it can help. The organization, which is new, bills itself as a free advising service for ambitious tech entrepreneurs who want to start something but don't know how.

It's an initiative of the Northern California Small Business Development Centers, which is itself partly funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration. There are 35 locations in California, with 10 specifically in NorCal.

Because it's free, tech entrepreneurs must apply for the assistance, which includes targeted fundraising, advice, R&D, marketing, intellectual property help and a primer on pitching venture capitalists. TFG says it's looking for "small tech businesses well-positioned for rapid growth that require intellectual property protection and that have the potential to create high-wage jobs in the future."

TFG touts its network of professionals as an attraction; among them are sales wiz Gerry Barañano (Xros, Nortel), Match Point Ventures president Ashwin Gulati and serial entrepreneur Terry Smith (StrataLight Communications, WaveSpan, BioCAD, Tangent Systems). The team also includes advisors focused specifically on IP, VCs and clean technology.