Though entrepreneurs whose businesses demonstrate truly scalable innovation have deep and specialized industry knowledge, many do not have the 360-degree business skills needed to succeed at the forefront of their sector. Top Gun accelerates that learning through a regimented curriculum and by pairing particpants with mentors and service providers that can help them leverage their expertise. Top Gun has three components: Top Gun Prep; Top Gun and Top Gun Next. Click here for the Top Gun 2013 Curriculum.
If you are a first-time entrepreneur with an innovative business idea, making progress can be slow and frustrating: who do you talk to? where do you begin trying to figure out if your idea is a good one? how do you learn all the new skills necessary to start and run a successful company? how do you get where you want to go fast? Introducing Top Gun Prep, the first program enabling any Maine entrepreneur to
learn how to dramatically increase speed and decrease risk building their startup.
Here’s how it works.
Top Gun Prep teaches critical information from three sources: 1) the textbook of Silicon Valley’s top entrepreneurship educator Steve Blank, 2) the world class, Maine-grown techniques of Innovation Engineering®, and 3) carefully chosen selections from the very best free internet resources for entrepreneurs. You’ll learn best practices for going from idea to market, plus the basics of financials and
The materials are explained in eight interactive weekly webinars that are recorded for later viewing for participants who can’t make some or even most of the classes live. Online classes are led by Don Gooding, an entrepreneur and angel investor who has assisted more than 100 Maine entrepreneurs over the last seven years, teaches Innovation Engineering® at the University of Southern Maine, and spent 11 years with the lead venture capital firm invested in Facebook. Don runs the Maine Center
for Entrepreneurial Development and is Vice Chair of the Maine Angels.
The online classes are highly interactive, as the Adobe Connect platform used to deliver them allow in-class polling and live Q&A. Adobe Connect just requires a modern browser and can even work on most smartphones! In addition, all Top Gun Prep participants will join a special, closed online forum where their short written assignments will receive feedback from, and their questions will be answered by, members of the Maine Mentor Network and up to 100 fellow entrepreneurs. Top Gun Prep will conclude with a pitch session by up to 20 selected participants. Online interactions will be supplemented by several face-to-face networking events, including gathering ahead of the monthly PubHub at the Casco Bay Tech Hub in Portland where MCED is located.
The course is particularly well suited for entrepreneurs building scalable innovation-based companies, but 75% of the Top Gun Prep curriculum is also helpful to entrepreneurs building small or micro-enterprises. The content will combine important basics with advanced concepts. College students contemplating entrepreneurship will get a great start, while more experienced entrepreneurs
will be connected with some of the leading edge thinking on how to build large, successful, groundbreaking companies.
We are confident this will make a huge difference for you. • Steve Blank’s methods are taught in Silicon Valley’s top universities, and have been adopted by the National Science Foundation to accelerate technology commercialization, form the basis for Startup Weekend and inspired Eric Ries’ Lean
Startup. Here in Maine, GWI credits it with dramatically accelerating new product development, while Top Gun graduate RainStorm Consulting cut 10 months from their original product development plan by following Blank’s teachings. • Innovation Engineering® has been developed and refined over 25 years, and documents increasing innovation speed by up to 6X and decreasing risk by up to 80%. It has been adopted by the national Manufacturing Extension Partnership to accelerate innovation by American manufacturers. • The 30+ online videos, 120+ blog entries and 10+ slide show selections in Top Gun
Prep are drawn from more than 40 sources and 10 “best of” lists. Hundreds of hours were spent compiling and annotating all of this vital information, so you don’t have to!
Top Gun Prep is only $300 for 9 weeks. It’s a great value when you consider the high cost and frustration of delaying the big returns from your big idea for months or years.
Top Gun is a 16-week, selective program where a small number of entrepreneurs build upon the lessons of Top Gun Prep and accelerate the development of their businesses. With support from the staff of MCED and its partners at UMaine, as well as mentors, Top Gun participants will meet bi-weekly with their peers for advanced learning sessions, skill building and community.
Top Gun is highly selective, looking at both the merits and capability of the applicant and their business as well as the feasibility of that venture given the current climate. Top applicants are:
Entrepreneurs who have identified a scalable market opportunity and are pursuing an innovative business model to fill that opportunity
A company with high-growth potential and an interest in staying in Maine.
Receptive to coaching, connections, and educational programming. Also, willingness to share experiences and expertise by participating in networking events and mentoring opportunities.
While the focus is primarily on high-growth oriented, innovative entrepreneurs, there are no rigid limitations on the type of individual that may apply. The program is offered at an affordable cost of $500 . All Top Gun participants must have completed Top Gun Prep or its equivalent.
Upon the completion of a class of Top Gun, all participants are encouraged continue to work with the MCED coaches and mentors through the Top Gun Next program.
Top Gun is not currently accepting applications. Please check back here for future program availability.