We’re halfway through the selection process for the Cringely (NOT in Silicon Valley) Startup Tour with more than 300 companies nominated including half a dozen still in stealth mode. I love to sign NDAs and welcome more stealth mode nominations because they tend to be interesting companies that are fresher. With a major PR push about to begin I am still hopeful we’ll get 500 companies from which to select the final 24.

If you have a startup and are discouraged about the competition for those 24 slots, I urge you to try anyway for two important reasons: 1) The nomination process alone offers real publicity for your company and has already produced unexpected opportunities for some, and; 2) if this project is even a modest hit on TV it will probably be extended in future seasons. So if you don’t make it this time you may well make it next time. There’s a fair chance we’ll be doing 44 companies per year for years to come.

The next step is standardizing the information I have on all the nominated companies and we’ll be doing that through a confidential online survey. The CEO or designated contact person for every nominated company will shortly receive an e-mail from me inviting them to fill out a fun and festive questionnaire about their company. It’s easy to do, has questions you might not expect to see, and just filling it out may well give you a fresh perspective on your own operation. Again, this information is confidential, though you can choose to include it in your public nomination if you like.

We’re still looking for experts to participate in the tour. These are people who have had successful startups and want to give something back to the community. Some will be local people, some regional or national. A couple will come with me to each company to observe and offer advice. Big shots like Andy Grove and Steve Wozniak will watch episodes on video and comment for the camera.

Startups always need money, of course, so I’m trying to include among my experts a cadre of venture capitalists and angel investors. While pumping money into your company isn’t a specific objective of this project, I’m sure it will happen a few times and showing that process to a viewing audience should be very interesting.

This is a renewed call, then, for experts, especially regional ones. If you are the founder or co-founder of a successful startup or are a VC, an angel investor, or represent a group of angels, I (bob@cringely.com) want to hear from you. Our geographical distribution at this point includes every state except Alaska so wherever you are we’ll probably be nearby this summer.

From this point on I’ll be doing weekly updates on the Startup Tour, as we’re calling it. Next week I try to talk Warren Buffett into giving me a new RV!

Oh, and while I have you on the line, if you can’t get enough of things Cringely, here’s a short interview I did recently about the financial crisis for AI5000 magazine. It’s worth a look if only for the caricature of me.