Top Gun Prep is an eight-week online class with open enrollment for up to 100 participants. The course is delivered weekly through interactive online webinars via Adobe Connect’s e-learning platform. Each session is recorded for later viewing by busy entrepreneurs unable to make all the live sessions. The 2014 Top Gun Prep course will begin Wednesday September 10th, and continue weekly through November 5th, In 2014. Click here to register:
Based on the curriculum used for the first three years of Top Gun, the course covers such topics as business models, Innovation Engineering, customer development (insights from Silicon Valley), entrepreneurial marketing, financials and financing. Don Gooding, the Director of MCED and vice chair of the Maine Angels (one of the top ten most active angel investment groups in the nation) leads the classes.
Outside the “classroom,” a LinkedIn group and Google Docs are used to enable participants to interact with each other and with mentors regarding homework and their own entrepreneurial issues. The course culminates with an optional Top Gun Prep Pitch Night for our entrepreneurs who want to practice their pitch in front of a panel of judges and a supportive audience.
Top Gun Prep runs twice a year and is a prerequisite for Top Gun. The fee is $300 per person, just 50% of actual costs, due to the generous support by the Blackstone Accelerates Growth program. In addition there is one required textbook for the course which is available new for about $30.
Is Top Gun Prep right for you?
Previous participants have included college students exploring entrepreneurship, people with raw ideas that might become businesses, teams developing products, entrepreneurs with early market success, even businesses that have been around for years but who want to grow through innovation.
App developers, vegetable farmers, online education developers, consultants, medical device companies, niche fashion designers, artisanal chocolate makers, rural small businesses, artists, and even a few government officials trying to understand entrepreneurship have all benefited from the class.
Top Gun Prep will entail two hours of class and another hour of homework a week (or more if you want) - remember, this is time invested in your entrepreneurial future.
Top Gun Prep is offered twice a year, and entrepreneurs may join up to three weeks into the course. Each class is recorded for later viewing by participants. To Register, please follow this link.
Here are some comments about Top Gun Prep from previous participants:
Rocco Sbardella, Mobile Magic
“Thanks for an amazing class! This idea of mine has progressed so much in the last two months and I don't think it would be as far along without your insights.”
Steve Shaffer, Black Dinah Chocolatiers
“Thanks for giving me a better language to talk about business.”
Terry Cross, Armaid
“Thank you for helping me to see business life differently.”
Charley Earley, EKLIPSE
“I learned a lot about valuable entrepreneurial prerequisites and parameters that I need to figure out and implement. p.s. Remind me to tell you about the new product idea I came up with while attending TGP!”
Pam Saunders, PJ Coeur
“What I learned in Top Gun Prep absolutely aided my ability to submit a successful [MTI TechStart] application - THANK YOU!!
Alexander Sargent, Roadcollect.com
“I just wanted to write and personally thank you for your level of professionalism and attention to detail in your Top Gun Prep course. I've just finished my first few classes for my MBA through WPI's cohort program and I have to say, you are both operating out of the same playbook!”
Meryem Rogan, Promise Pretzels of Maine
“You have actually made learning about business very interesting!”
Robert Keteyian, Interpersonal Communication Consulting
“The class, among other things, has helped me look more broadly and think about opportunities formerly off my radar. I’m frequently asking myself, how I can make contact with people in various places…”
Top Gun is an annual five-month program (Jan-May) for competitively selected entrepreneurs, that combines mentoring with high-impact bi-weekly gatherings held on staggered days throughout the week in Portland and Bangor and Rockland.
Entrepreneurs accelerate their progress by…
working closely with one to three mentors while connecting with many others who can help;
listening to successful entrepreneurs discuss vital topics then applying lessons learned to their own businesses;
sharing perspectives with others facing similar challenges; and
developing and practicing their pitches.
Top Gun identifies high potential entrepreneurs in Maine through a competitive application process in November and December. In January they are matched with mentors who help guide them as they continue to develop their innovative products, business models and companies. The classes of six to 12 entrepreneurs in each location convene about every other week for networking and mentor meetings over dinner. Sessions can include opportunites for pitch practice, brief presentations by experienced entrepreneurs, and lively discussions about such diverse topics as salesmanship, bootstrapping, hiring, firing and legal issues.
The program concludes by bringing together a statewide community of 300 to celebrate and encourage these high potential entrepreneurial teams at the Top Gun Showcase. Entrepreneurs give a five minute pitch in front of panelists, which may include potential investors, business leaders, and the press. Particpants get to engage in the experience of promoting their business to a relevant and appreciative audience.
Is Top Gun right for you?
Previous participants have included technology companies (such as apps, cleantech and specialty materials), innovative food companies (such as mass market mead, artisanal chocolate and spelt bagels), as well as service companies with a unique twist. What binds them together are high aspirations to achieve growth through innovation.
Of the 60 companies that have been through Top Gun since 2009, 40% were already generating revenue, at an annual rate of up to $1 million. Most of the rest were in product and business model development, with a handful still in research or in the product and business model definition stage.
Top Gun teams have included twenty-somethings, AARP-demographic entrepreneurs and every age in between.
The fee for Top Gun is $500 per team, just 10% of actual costs, due to the generous support by the Blackstone Accelerates Growth program.
Top Gun applications open next in late Autumn. Historically there have been two applicants for each team accepted into the program. The application link is available on this web page in October.