March in Maine…Truly in Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb

The old adage about March coming in like a lion and out like a lamb was perhaps never truer than in 2018 with New England experiencing four nor’easters and being pelted with roughly three feet of snow over a two-week span. As the final days of March come to a close, we are now experiencing daytime high temperatures in the low 50s and are starting to feel some optimism that spring is finally here.

2018 State of the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Event

Speaking of optimism, I was excited by the turnout in Augusta last evening by entrepreneurs, lawmakers, economic development practitioners, and business startup mentors who turned out for the 2018 State of the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem (SOE) event. The SOE is our annual opportunity to provide an update on the successes Maine has experienced in its startup and entrepreneurial community, while also highlighting some of the challenges and opportunities that we face.  The event was sponsored by the Maine Technology Institute, Maine Community Foundation, Coastal Enterprises, and Maine Accelerates Growth (MxG). MxG is a statewide network of people and organizations (24 in all) who work selflessly to promote and support entrepreneurs throughout Maine. Utilizing the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation’s four indicators of entrepreneurial vibrancy, MxG provided highlights of its metrics and analysis that help assess the strength of Maine’s system of supports for entrepreneurs. The overview was helpful and illustrative of the strengths and weaknesses inherent in our ecosystem. The full report can be found here:

In addition to rich networking opportunities and information sharing, the brief program also featured the encouraging and inspirational stories of two rising entrepreneurial stars – – Maddie Purcell of Fyood Kitchen in Portland and Chris McKenzie of STARC Systems in Brunswick. It was a fun and engaging evening and it was great for lawmakers to hear, firsthand, the personal journeys that Maine entrepreneurs have taken. Whether through the formal presentations by Purcell and McKenzie or the informal conversations that transpired between lawmakers and innovators during the networking portion of the program, the journeys of all entrepreneurs are compelling Maine stories of ingenuity, passion, aspiration, achievement – – sometimes disappointment – – and, of course, dogged determination and perseverance. It was a tremendous evening and I want to thank the sponsors and MxG partners for pulling it all together.

Gorham Savings Bank’s Launchpad Deadline Approaching

As the temperatures begin to increase in Maine, it’s a pleasant reminder that Gorham Savings Bank’s Launchpad competition is once again about to commence. The business pitch competition could net one lucky and talented entrepreneur $50,000 for their venture. Past Launchpad winners include MTI portfolio companies Good to-Go (2017), Flowfold (2015), Bixby & Co. (2014), and Pika Energy (2013). The application deadline, April 15th, is fast approaching so I encourage you to apply or to pass this information along to a small business person or entrepreneur who might benefit from the competition. For more information, visit Launchpad.

Another sure-fire sign of spring is the start of the major league baseball season. Today is opening day for the Red Sox, in Tampa fortunately, and we are all hopeful that most of the snow will have disappeared when they return for their home opener on April 5th. Go Sox!