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CEO Space

 

The Ultimate Network

CEO Space is training and connecting a new breed of entrepreneurs and angel investors.

By Scott S. Smith

 CEO MagazineIt's the most important entrepreneurial organization you've never heard of. Although 11,000 people from 140 countries have been through its programs since 1991, Income Builders International has been going about its mission of changing the business world underneath most people's radar.

All that is to change as CEO Space introduces its ideas in schools with the active interest of the U.S. Congress. Plus, corporations and over 100 city managers nationwide have asked for help from CEO Space, which is dedicated to training entrepreneurs and matching them up with investors.

CEO Space is the brainchild of former Marin county resident Bernhard Dohrmann and his wife Lynn Dohrmann. The couple administers the company from their headquarters in Alabama though they have several California offices.

Many things make CEO Space unique. One is the missionary zeal that Berny, a former importer of art, antiquities, and diamonds, and Lynn, a onetime publicist, have developed to help others. The Small Business Administration says that three out of four startups fail within the first eight years. To improve that, their tenet is that networking and mentorship will provide win-win opportunities for everyone involved.

Out of their research has come Super Teaching, a method of instructing entrepreneurs using multimedia technologies and insights from the psychology of learning. Every other month at a hotel near Los Angeles International Airport, hundreds of CEO Space members gather for Super Teaching courses on topics like how to make presentations to investors, recruiting a board, and smart marketing.

The lecturers at CEO Space are accomplished people, such as lack Canfield (co-author of the bestselling Chicken Soup books), marketing legend Jay Abraham (Getting All You Can Out of All You've Got), and Larry Johnson (who helped develop Transmeta Corp.'s Crusoe microprocessor).

Barry Spilchuk (a Cup of Chicken for the Soul), the very first CEO Space member, has been to all of the conferences. He's a teddy bear of enthusiasm on stage, and off stage he pitches Let's Talk, a set of interactive CDs to help improve family relationships. Suzie Fields, who teaches capital management, had one of the top beauty salons in the U.S. before she and husband Bert Carter cashed out to form Your Beauty Network. They have enrolled 1,800 salon and spa owners. Recently, someone who heard about Your Beauty Network from an CEO Space member invested $250,000 without even meeting Fields or Carter.

The lifetime membership isn't cheap, but members swear it's much more expensive to pass up the resources. For those who can't afford to join, there are free programs on raising seed capital, prior to going to class.

One CEO Space survey showed that 64% of members reported they earned back their fee with at least 100% profit in 180 days. New members go to the week-long Free Enterprise Forum, while returnees - about 20% of the crowd - can go to the last couple of days free, the rest at a discount.

In the new era of the venture capital desert for small companies, CEO Space is a potential oasis of financing and expertise.

(Reprinted from California CEO Magazine)

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