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A group of Silicon Valley veterans is launching an early stage venture capital and mentoring company aimed at small technology start-ups.

It aims to fill the perceived gap between small-scale bank funding and the big investments of the traditional venture funds. Firms often complain it is very difficult to get funding which is more than the tens of thousands of pounds typically offered by banks, but less than the several million offered by normal VC funds.

Successful applicants to LaunchBox Digital get money, help with the admin of setting up the business and a 12 week course in Washington along with access to mentors and other potential investors.

Founders include the former CTO of AOL John McKinley, Sean Greene, founder of Away Travel Network which he sold to Orbitz. Advisors to LaunchBox Digital include Ross Levinsohn, former president of Fox Interactive, Ted Meisel, former CEO of Overture, Tom and David Gardner, founders of the Motley Fool and Michael Powell former FCC chairman.

LaunchBox is looking for six to ten firms to take part in its first course in Washington in May 2008. It will offer firms investment of between $15,000 and $30,000 in exchange for a four to eight per cent equity stake.

Companies are expected to end the 12 week course with a decent pitch to offer other investors and the press at a pitch day. Most companies are expected to need more investment by the end of the course.

The VC website is here. ®

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