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University of Pittsburgh experts to field Entrepreneur's Hotline calls

| Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Entrepreneurs throughout the region will have access to a new asset — an Entrepreneur's Hotline — starting next week, courtesy of The Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence at the University of Pittsburgh.

Institute founder and Executive Director Ann Dugan announced the new hotline, 1-844-PITTIEE or 1-844-748-8433, on Wednesday as she released the results of the institute's 20th annual report. Throughout the month of March, institute staffers will provide regional entrepreneurs with free advice on starting, growing or taking a business through a transition.

Dugan, who plans to step aside this year once Pitt hires her replacement, said the hotline is an effort to ensure that more small businesses and entrepreneurs have an opportunity to tap into the institute's resources.

“I want to make sure every entrepreneur in Southwestern Pennsylvania knows that they have this amazing resource available to them. We want people to call us and hear what we're all about and how we can help them,” she said.

Pitt's role in connecting entrepreneurs to the university's resources and building a “local entrepreneurial ecosystem” can be replicated at other universities, Dugan said.

The institute helped 47 business startups last year and provided advice to about 900 entrepreneurs last year.

Funded through a combination of foundations, sponsors, membership fees and government grants, the organization provides services ranging from mentoring to advice on technology and finances. Although it does not provide funding for startups, Dugan said, it can point businesses to banks, angel investors, venture capitalists and various government programs.

“We point them to where to get the money and prepare them for how to get the money, always making sure the vision, plan and funding are all the same,” she said.

Debra Erdley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7996 or

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