How can I add new programs to the launcher in Ubuntu?
The other portion if I understand you correctly should be pretty simple. Just launch the application you want to attach to the "start menu" or rather dock panel, side bar, but officially it is called the "Launcher" and right click the icon and lock to launcher.
You can also drag applications directly from the Dash into the launcher.
To add applications to the Dash (then you press the windows key), Go to ~/.local/share/applications and create your .desktop files there.
A much easier way...
Then run alacarte and create menu entries as you like. They will show in the unity launcher.
Sample desktop file (from sublime text 2)