Congratulations to the 29 companies selected from three regions to participate in Top Gun 2016. This year marks the second consecutive year that sessions will be held in three locations: Portland, Bangor and Rockland. The incredibly successful program, is designed to transform it's particpants from promising entrepreneurs into successful companies. The program has been running seven years, since 2009 and has graduated over 110 companies.
The selected entrepreneurs completed a rigorous application process that included submitting a pitch deck, presenting a pitch to a panel, interviews and participating in an optional PreFlight workshop series.
“This year’s Top Gun class truly represents the uniqueness and diversity of Maine’s startup community,” said Don Gooding, Executive Director for MCED, “Every year we draw an amazing group of companies who continually raise the bar in Maine.”
Top Gun is supported by Camden National Bank, Bangor Target Area Development Corporation and the Maine Technology Institute. Other corporate sponsors, local businesses, partner organizations, program advisors and mentors also contribute to the success of the program. Planning for the 2016 Top Gun Program was made possible by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) through its Growth Accelerator Fund Competition awarded to MCED in August of 2015.
MCED was also awarded an i6 Challenge Award through the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) 2015 Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) Program, which is managed by EDA’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The EDA award will continue to expand the Top Gun Rural Accelerator Network, which includes programs both before and after Top Gun. Next year, MCED plans to expand Top Gun to Lewiston-Auburn.
The following entrepreneurs have been selected to participate in each location:
Ben Davis- True Course Yachting
Mike Mwenedata- Rawanda Bean Company
Kurt Shisler- FoodHEALTH
Joe Walsh- Green Clean Maine
Amanda O’Brien, Pete Dubuc- Eighteen Twenty
Alexandra Johnson, Dan Johnson- RoboJoe
Troy Locke, Rick Hollen- Spring Point Solutions
The Clothesline Club
Ryan Beaumont- Mobility Technologies
David Higham- Red Door Network
Mark Hews- Total Crowd Solutions
Ailish Keating- Botanical Brews & Happy Kids
Kasey Smith- Eternav
Elena Metzger- Print Bangor
Kelly McClymer- Kelly McClymer Books
Feras Elyounis- Half Auto
Simin Khosravani- Revolution Research Inc.
John Rasanen- Tips
Niles Parker- Science Around ME
Dan Steinke,Ted Morgan, Dave Pier- Dental Health Advantage Plan
Mandy Fountaine- Bar Harbor Catering Company
Sarah Baldwin- Bella Luna Toys
Juliana Hoffman- Tic Tac Taco
Claire Weinberg- Dulse & Rugosa
Jacinda Martinez- Grounded Local
Chuck Benton- TeamAR
Eric Jacobssen- Maine Classic Boats
Rhonda Nordstrom- Rheal Skin Care
Judy Bernier- Podzooks
The selected companies will meet in high-impact sessions in Portland, Bangor and Rockland. The classes convene weekly for networking, workshopping and mentor meetings over dinner. Sessions can include opportunities for pitch practice, presentations by experienced entrepreneurs, workshopping and lively discussions about such diverse topics as salesmanship, bootstrapping, hiring, firing and legal issues.
The program culminates with a showcase event in May. The event will feature a tradeshow in which all Top Gun companies will have a chance to showcase their business and 2 companies selected from each region will present before a panel of judges and an audience of 300 potential investors, business leaders, and the press.