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Paying Your Dues If you're looking for investor money, brace yourself for a rigorous due-diligence process.

By David Worrell

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

On the road to building his telecom technology company, AscendentTelecommunications, founder and president Stephen Forte thoughtthat finding funding was going to be the easy part. It was February2000, and Ascendent was riding high on the double wave of Internetmania and boundless telecom spending.

Ascendent's product, which marries wireless phones totraditional phone systems, had just been installed at the famousBeverly Hills Four Seasons Hotel. The company had managed to getthrough its first year in business with some seed capital still inthe bank. Moreover, within hours of announcing a second round offundraising, Forte received a lucrative term sheet from a largeEast Coast VC.

The future looked bright, but Forte's prospective investorsweren't expecting the telecom market meltdown of 2001. AndForte wasn't expecting the extended-and expensive-period of duediligence that followed.

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