MTI . . . More Than Just Funding

March 23, 2017 | President’s blog

Here at the Maine Technology Institute (MTI), we generally use the following elevator pitch to describe what we do, “MTI helps fund, connect and grow Maine’s innovation economy.”  By that, we mean that we fund Maine entrepreneurs, companies and organizations who engage technology to develop innovative products and processes and connect them to resources to help them grow profitable enterprises.

The connector role can manifest itself in a number of different ways. For example, we work with partner organizations like the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development and its Governor’s Account Executives to help link our portfolio companies to resources and support.  We also work hand-in-glove with partners like the Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development (MCED), SCORE, and the Maine Small Business Development Center (SBDC) to provide mentorship and assistance.

MTI also retains a small cadre of seasoned entrepreneurs that we deploy to companies within our portfolio to assist with manufacturing challenges, operational issues, sales and marketing concerns/opportunities, and other business-related matters. These are individuals that have grown companies, sold them, started new ones, and/or have worked in c-level positions at businesses large and small.  They appreciate the struggles that business owners typically face because they, too, have experienced the successes and failures associated with launching and scaling a business.

I was pleased recently to read comments from Claudia Raessler of Maine Dye & Textile in Saco that touted the meaningful insights and assistance she received from MTI’s entrepreneur-in-residence team. In last Friday’s Founder Forum in the weekly Maine Startups Insider newsletter, Claudia noted that in addition to receiving funding from the Maine Technology Institute, she also received valuable mentoring support. “In our case, because we were thinly capitalized with a big agenda, we had to go find money from different pots to spread the risk a little bit. That’s ranged from Saco Biddeford Economic Development to CEI to MTI. And by far, MTI I would say with its wrap-around entrepreneurial programs, has been our biggest support in meeting those challenges. They make people who have been there and done that and have experience in various areas, be it sales or operations, available to the clients in their portfolio and it’s at little or no cost to use usually. It’s sort of like having a built-in mentor or board of directors when you’re not quite big enough to have a board of directors.”

MTI’s work with Maine Dye & Textile has been repeated many times over with other companies around the State of Maine. Clearly, today’s entrepreneurs need more than just money to be successful.  By surrounding them with a system of direct supports through the SBDC, MCED and SCORE, to name a few, and augmenting that assistance with MTI’s entrepreneur-in-residence program, we will have a much greater likelihood of helping these companies to scale and grow profitable enterprises.  Undeniably, Maine’s economy and its workers will ultimately be the beneficiaries of this proven and constructive approach.

Hope you are enjoying spring in Maine. It sure doesn’t feel like spring.


Brian Whitney