UGA STARTUPS is the name of a new monthly seminar series on entrepreneurship, hosted by the University of Georgia's Terry College of Business. "Franchising: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" will be the subject of the first seminar on Thursday, Jan. 29, at the Terry Executive Education Center in Buckhead.

The two-hour seminar, which starts at 6:30 pm, will feature a panel of experts discussing how to find and evaluate franchising opportunities as a potential alternative in today's job market.

"With the economy in recession and unemployment rising, a lot of people have lost jobs or are at risk of being laid off who may find better results by starting their own ventures," said Chris Hanks, who directs Terry's Entrepreneurship Program and created the UGA STARTUPS seminar series to educate aspiring entrepreneurs and assist them in launching successful ventures. "If you have ever had the desire to start your own business, this seminar series will be an invaluable resource."

The Entrepreneurship Program designed the series as an interactive, informal and safe forum open to anyone with a serious interest in starting a business. No brokers, consultants or persons soliciting business are invited to attend, Hanks said, and this helps attendees feel comfortable discussing fears and concerns about starting a business without pressure to become a client of the individuals giving advice.

"I am very impressed by all that the Terry College of Business is doing to mentor and develop successful entrepreneurs, especially in times like these," said seminar panelist Thomas Gustoff, a regional developer for Massage Heights, a San Antonio-based franchise that began in 2004. "I am excited to be a part of this event."

The UGA STARTUPS seminar series is free for UGA students and alumni, and $10 for the general public. Future seminars will cover topics such as raising capital, purchasing existing businesses, secrets of successful startups and building wealth through business ownership.

The Entrepreneurship Program was established by the Terry College of Business to provide an outstanding entrepreneurship curriculum, mentoring by the most seasoned entrepreneurs in the Southeast, networking opportunities, practical seminars and an array of other resources designed to inspire, teach and serve entrepreneurs and those who hope to be.