John Friess, like a lot of entrepreneurs, needed a sounding board when he and his brother Mark started a health-education company, Portland, Ore.'s Wired.MD in 2000. So he began hitting business events, only to notice some of the same faces in attendance. Friess, who sold Wired.MD seven and a half years ago and is on his second start-up, started chatting up these fellow entrepreneurs. These parking-lot talks quickly developed into Starve Ups, an entrepreneur group that provides peer mentoring to founders and management teams of start-ups. "Mentoring was readily available," recalls Friess. "Access to funding was available. So was hiring expertise. Direct peer mentoring was the missing link. We needed an environment in which founder could speak to founder, where we could talk to each other about core issues about our businesses." After the first meeting at music-licensing company Rumblefish, Friess and his seven co-conspirators hashed out some guidelines. Members had to be founders or management leaders of start-ups. That meant no service providers and franchisers. Other rules: no fees, a strict confidentiality policy and a membership cap of 20. Friess discovered the need to create his own entrepreneur group, but there are a slew of existing ones you can tap into. Just keep these seven things in mind when searching. What are your goals? Before you check out any group, let alone sign on, you need to figure out what you and your company want from this network. Are you at the start-up stage and grappling with those issues? Are you more established but want to grow your business? Are you looking to learn from peers? Do you want an organization that is more social in nature or more business-like?