24 Jun Jumping in to Maine’s startup & tech community
Each week, we meet people who moved to Maine recently from another tech & startup ecosystem — New York City, Paris, Boston, San Francisco, even Nairobi. And more and more local entrepreneurs are launching their own startups in Maine today. One question they’re all asking: how do I get involved in Maine’s startup & tech community? Here’s a crash course. If you attend these events, follow these Facebook pages and make an effort to meet people, you’ll be in the mix of Maine’s dynamic scene in no time. (This list is not exhaustive — there is way too much to fit in one post, but this will get you started).
Maine House of Genius: a monthly opportunity for local entrepreneurs to get instant feedback on a business challenge they’re facing from a panel of experienced business leaders, attorneys, investors, consultants and others. If you’re an entrepreneur, this may be the best 60 minutes you’ll ever spend on your business, hearing candid and specific wisdom from Maine’s best business minds. If you’re interested on serving the panel of Geniuses, it’s a great chance to meet a dozen or more locals who are heavily involved in the entrepreneurial community.
1 Million Cups: our local chapter of the Kauffmann Foundation’s intimate monthly gathering for entrepreneurs to offer help and advice to a growing company. First Wednesday of each month, 7:30 am, coffee included.
Startup Grind: Portland’s chapter of the global network for entrepreneurs. This group hosts an ongoing series of fireside chats with founders and others who impart lessons learned and answer audience Q&As, with plenty of networking and beer on-site.
Creative Portland: this nonprofit organization is Portland’s official local arts agency, serving creative professionals and entrepreneurs. It hosts great networking events, provides resources for creatives, and more. It also provides a great networking service, 2 Degrees Portland, which welcomes recent arrivals by connecting them with locals who share their interests and have volunteered to introduce them to the city and make introductions for them.
Maine Startup & Create Week: Maine’s annual conference on innovation, design and technology. Launched in 2014, the week-long event has brought incredible minds from companies like Google, Amazon, Forbes and Disney together with Maine’s most exciting and innovative companies. Serving as a volunteer for the event is a terrific way to meet Maine’s best entrepreneurs, network, and maybe find your next job… or your next startup co-founder. Planning the conference is nearly a year-round effort with many volunteers, so get involved at any time.
Venture Hall, launched in 2016, is an emerging magnet and home for startups that aspire to grow fast and grow big. It will be home to an accelerator as well as ongoing educational programming, networking events and more. Stay tuned for more details to emerge as Venture Hall gears up for its first accelerator class in summer 2017.
SCORE Portland Maine: the Portland chapter of SCORE, the country’s largest volunteer business mentoring service, is outstanding. If you’re a new business seeking guidance, sign up to be paired with a mentor (at no charge). If you’re an experience businessperson, sign up to help a younger generation of entrepreneurs build their companies.
Startup pitch competitions are also flourishing in Maine. Opticliff Law is an organizer of Pitch York County, a monthly Biddeford event where startups compete for cash prizes before a panel of judges comprised of investors, startup lawyers, entrepreneurs and other mentors. PubHub has also held two startup pitch competitions in Portland. Keep an eye out for even more pitch contests organizing soon.
Meetup.com: find local groups of people sharing your interests, whether that’s building a 3d printer at the Open Bench Project, meeting local UX designers, swapping software tips at the Server Side Engineering and Performance Meetup or having a beer with virtual reality tech enthusiasts. Pro tip: if the group you’d like to see doesn’t exist yet, congratulations! You’ve just become the organizer of a new Meetup, which is a terrific way to meet locals.
Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development: With offerings like Top Gun, Table Talk Workshops, and the Maine Mentor Network, MCED is a hub of startup activity with a robust network of founders, funders, and advisors. Definitely engage, attand a discussion or just stop by and introduce yourself. They’re there to help!
If you’re looking for an affordable place to run your startup where you can be surrounded by other entrepreneurs, consider joining a co-working space. We’re fans of Think Tank Coworking (Portland, Yarmouth) and its sister Think Tank Biddeford; Cloudport; Engine Room; and PelotonLabs.
To make sure you stay up to date on acquisitions, investment news and other startup news, visit Maine Startups Insider, a clearinghouse for news about Maine’s emerging companies. Curated by Whit Richardson, a former reporter covering the startup beat for the Portland Press-Herald newspaper, the site covers news, rumors, and job listings. Make sure to sign up for the Insider‘s weekly email newsletter.
Finally, Startup Portland publishes a useful calendar of upcoming events. You can add your own events too.
Opticliff Law, LLC is a business law firm founded by entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs. We handle trademark law, contracts, the formation of companies and general business law. The firm is a sponsor of PubHub Maine. Two of our attorneys, Adam Nyhan and Andrew Kraus, served on the steering committee for Maine Startup & Create Week 2016. Andrew also is an organizer of Maine House of Genius and 2 Degrees Portland; Adam also sits on the Board of Portland Buy Local. Our founding attorney, Zeke Callanan, serves on the Board of Creative Portland.