Arden Kelton has developed his sea legs as an entrepreneur by riding out high and low tides. Kelton, who holds a Ph.D. in medical physics from the University of California, Los Angeles, is founder and president of Lamplighter Industries Inc. The Yanceyville, N.C., firm uses a ceramic technology invented by Kelton's partner, engineer David Emmett, to manufacture electronic display lighting for instrument light panels. During recent weeks, Kelton has been scrambling to do something that for a lot of people would be monumental, but for the founder of a startup venture is close to routine--come up with more than $1 million to meet a pressing need for machinery and operating capital.

Despite his recent financial problems, Kelton has not lost his entrepreneurial spirit. "Money doesn't matter an awful lot; it's really the project's meaning," he says. "I believe in the company's future, and I do have confidence that if the...

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