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Teacher's Aid

This education entrepreneur learned some valuable lessons about getting funding.

Building a business can be a lonely journey--perhaps even more so if you are the female CEO of a company focused on educating inner-city kids. But Saki Dodelson, CEO of Achieve3000 in Lakewood, New Jersey, found both the moral and strategic support she needed from her mentors. She is among the hundreds of business owners mentored through Springboard Enterprises, a not-for-profit network of women entrepreneurs.

Dodelson's mentors reshaped her message to appeal to investors and helped her score over $5 million in venture capital. With her mentors' continued help, Achieve3000 has grown to $8 million in annual revenue and helps nearly half a million school-age kids improve their literacy skills each year.

"I used to talk about my passion for changing the world," says Dodelson, 40, "and my mentors helped me realize that the investors want to know about how you're making money."

This story appears in the April 2006 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »