If you're an aspiring entrepreneur, you know the drill: assemble the business plan, contact anyone and everyone who might be willing and/or able to invest in your idea, send a business plan to venture capital firms, and wait. MerchantBanc's InfusionLab offers a hands-on approach that, in essence, turns the process on its head--offering a face-to-face meeting with a venture capitalist as the first step in the process rather than the last.

MerchantBanc, a New Hampshire-based venture capital company, will bring the next in a series of award-winning networking conferences to Bedford, New Hampshire, on April 4, 2002. The half-day networking conference will also offer educational sessions, including capital raising, perfecting the pitch and lessons learned by local success stories. Winner of the Northeast Economic Developers Association Award of Excellence for 2001, the InfusionLab offers entrepreneurs and emerging businesses what they want most: an opportunity to pitch their ideas face-to-face to a panel of venture capitalists. The April InfusionLab panel will include representatives from BancBoston Ventures, Kodiak Venture Partners, 3i and Silicon Valley Bank.

Past panelists have given InfusionLab high marks for the quality of the educational content and for the unique networking opportunity. "There is a real pocket of promise in New Hampshire," said recent panelist John McCormick of BancBoston Capital. " InfusionLab helps teach venture capitalists and entrepreneurs how to communicate more effectively with each other."

Kurt Dobbins, founder and CTO of Ellacoya Networks, echoed the sentiment from the entrepreneurial perspective: "As an entrepreneur who has been through an intense 'learn as you grow' program of my own, I wanted to share with you how insightful and valuable I found the InfusionLab sessions to be. I am not one to look back, but had I had access to this type of brainpower and investor/market advice, it would have eliminated a lot of personal and professional anguish and uncertainty during the early days."

InfusionLab 2002 is sponsored by Ernst & Young LLP and Gallagher, Callahan & Gartrell, PA. The event will be held at the Event Center at C.R. Sparks on April 4 from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Entrepreneurs interested in attending InfusionLab and/or submitting a two-minute business plan summary for consideration as a presenter to the venture capital panel should check the MerchantBanc Web site at www.merchantbanc.com, or call (603) 623-5500. The deadline for submitting an entry is Monday, March 11, 2002.