Top Gun Track

Top Gun is a five-month program that combines mentoring with high-impact bi-weekly gatherings. The application deadline is January 22nd and the program will run from February 27th through June 9. To date 117 companies have gone through the Top Gun program.

Applying to Top Gun is easy!

The process involves completing a Business Model Canvas, submitting a brief application and presenting a pitch with a slide deck to members of the Top Gun Advisory Board.

Haven’t ever done a pitch and don’t know what a Business Model Canvas is? No Worries! You can sign up for one of our PreFlight workshops where you can learn about the basics of pitching, Business Model Canvas and get feedback on your pitch.

Here are the steps for submitting your application (deadline Jan.22):

  1. Submit a completed Top Gun Inquiry Form by clicking the link below. Upon submission of the inquiry form, you will receive an auto response with the application form, pitch deck guidelines and a link to a Business Model Canvas template. If you do not receive an email after submitting your inquiry form within one half hour, please check your junk folder and/or contact Julie Vohs at MCED. 

  2. Consider registering for Preflight workshops. These workshops are optional but highly recommended. 

  3. Email your completed application, Business Model Canvas and pitch deck to Julie Vohs. You will receive confirmation of submission within 3 business days. Please contact her directly if you do not receive the confirmation. 

  4. Schedule your 5-minute pitch and post-pitch interview. A link with available times and dates will be emailed to you after your application, pitch deck and Business Model Canvas have been received. 

  5. Present your 5-minute pitch to the advisory board with a 15-minute Q & A session to follow. 


Top Gun Inquiry Form

Top Gun Portland PreFlight Registration

Top Gun Midcoast PreFlight Registration

Top Gun Bangor Preflight Registration


  • Top Gun Prep
  • 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. Look for a new Top Gun Prep class in fall of 2016.

    Based on the programming 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 will be offered again in 2015. Most of the companies selected for the Top Gun program are graduates of Top Gun Prep. The fee is $300 per person, just 50% of actual costs, due to the generous support of our sponsors. 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.  

    Each Top Gun Prep class is recorded for later viewing by participants.  
    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,

    “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

Top Gun is an annual program that will run from March through June in 2016. The program is for competitively selected entrepreneurs, and combines mentoring with high-impact weekly gatherings held in Portland, 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 January and February. In March they will be 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 will convene weekly for networking, workshopping 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.  Six entrepreneurs will be selected through a round of semi-finals in each location to 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 117 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. 

Applications for the Top Gun class of 2016 will open in December 2015.