Success stories and testimonials from past MCE participants.
About Our Alumni
MCE alumni members have included twenty-somethings, AARP-demographic entrepreneurs, and every age in between. Companies who have participated in our past programs have included technology companies, innovative food companies, as well as service companies with a unique twist.
What binds our participants together are their high aspirations to achieve growth through innovation.
MCE programs and workshops have enabled many companies to achieve their goals and go beyond their dreams. Hear what our alumni have to say about MCE:
“When we (Ocean Renewable Power Company) first decided to make Portland the headquarters for ORPC, we had little (actually no) money and needed to start our base of operations. MCE provided us that and more, including credibility. And as a huge bonus, we got to know John Ferland, who was running MCE at the time, and John is now our Vice President of Project Development and has been a key to our success to date.”
— Chris Sauer, CEO, Ocean Renewable Power Company, Portland
ORPC incubated at MCE and has gone on to become a global leader in tidal power generation, and has generated about 100 Maine jobs.
“The Top Gun Program provided us with extraordinary guidance and professional advice. We are on course to achieve our business goals because of the Top Gun program. This is incredibly important to us.”
— Steve Shaffer, CEO, Black Dinah Chocolatiers, Westbrook
Black Dinah Chocolatiers is nationally recognized. Top Gun Prep graduate, Top Gun 2013 class.
“Having MCED as a resource has been a God send to our company’s development and our ability to stay headquartered in Maine. Not only have we been given direct support that has been extraordinarily valuable to us in our growth plans and funding, but we have found a network of other businesses, peers, resources that have made an immense difference to us.”
— Shannon Kinney, Founder and Chief Success Officer, Dream Local Digital, Rockland
Shannon is a “boomeranger” who grew up in Maine, started a dot.com in Chicago, worked for a corporate venture capital firm in Silicon Valley but came home to start her company. MeBIS client.
“The programs offered by MCE are a great combination of curriculum and connections. For curriculum, MCE understands the range of experience and knowledge of its participants and does a nice job presenting information that is beneficial to everyone involved. For connections, there is no better network that I am aware of in Maine with such a strong interest in fostering business success. Those involved offer input ranging from passive suggestions to full scale mentoring. This combination of curriculum and connections, offered at warp speeds is not something you can find in traditional education or other formats. It has been a great help to our organization.”
— Mike Davis, CEO, IRC Solar Roof Systems, Lewiston
IRC Solar Roof Systems is a fast-growing division of a successful, long time, family owned roofing company in Lewiston and was a Top Gun 2012 graduate.
“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. I’m really impressed so far. WPI’s biz school faculty (and staff, actually) are all Babson ex-pats so the program has some similarities to what you may be familiar too. But I kept thinking, when I was down there, what an amazing program you put together that spanned so short an amount of time.”
— Alexander Sargent, Founder, Roadcollect.com, Portland
Alex is a Marine veteran and USM graduate. He won our “Back of the Napkin” contest and with it, a Top Gun Prep scholarship.
“Being part of the Top Gun program was a great experience, not only was it informative and educational but also inspiring. It was great to get to work among fellow industry peers that are all passionate about what they do and so driven to grow. The value of the program far exceeded my expectations.”
— Jonathan Turcotte, Founder, Glidden Point Oyster Farms
Glidden Point Oyster Farms participated in the 2018 Aquaculture focused Top Gun class.
“I’m compelled to write a thank you to you as I see that it looks like RHEAL will be up 10% gross sales over last year. It’s quite possible my mentor connections through Top Gun helped us get there.”
— Rhonda H. Nordstrom, Founder, RHEAL Day Spa
Rhonda was a graduate of the 2016 Top Gun class
“Top Gun gave us tools, community, and, most importantly, lots of opportunities to practice, utterly screw up, but ultimately forge what evolved into a pretty decent business pitch. It was a valuable experience that put Rapport on the road toward viability.”
— John Rooks, Founder, Rapport
Rapport was a 2015 graduate of the Top Gun Class.
“Top Gun was an incredible learning experience for us at Bangs Island Mussels. The classroom time was very helpful, but the access to an army of skilled mentors was priceless!”
— Matthew Moretti, MS & President, Wild Ocean Aquaculture, LLC/Bangs Island Mussels, Portland
Bangs Island Mussels participated in the 2018 Aquaculture focused Top Gun class.
“Direct experience is the best teacher, and I had several excellent mentors during both the Top Gun program as well as at MassChallenge. I learned firsthand the most efficient ways for mentors and mentees to communicate with each other on a regular basis, what advice is most helpful, and most importantly, useful and constructive ways to give advice.”
— Dr. Susan MacKay, CEO, Cerahelix, Orono
Dr. MacKay participated in the first Top Gun class in 2009 with her first startup, and is now working on her second company.
“The connections with people we’ve met through the (Top Gun) mentor program and the events is easily the most valuable aspect. If you look at what makes places like Silicon Valley so fertile for innovation, it’s basically a critical mass of people building companies and trying new things, and a culture where cross-pollination is the norm. So in trying to accelerate entrepreneurship in Maine, getting energetic, smart people together has got to be the top priority.”
— Ben Polito, CEO, Pika Energy, Gorham
Ben Polito is a “boomeranger” – he grew up in Maine, went to MIT, worked in Arizona on the market leading wind turbine, and came home to build his startup. 2012 Top Gun graduate.
“We had an idea and a company when we started MCED incubation. Over the last 4 months the events, seminars, and personal mentoring provided has progressed our company and idea into a business viable for investment both within Maine and nationally (California). The advice and expertise “on-call” through MCED is indispensable to starting entrepreneurs as they navigate the very complex landscape of their individual industry. MCED has connected AboGen with institutions within Maine in legal and finance and has given us leverage to get the best value for our money and obtain free advice and counseling, indispensable to bootstrapping startups.”
— Stephen Andrews, CEO, Abogen, Portland
Stephen Andrews is a “boomeranger” who grew up in Maine, went away to get his Ph.D. in molecular biochemistry, then returned home to start his biosciences company. MeBIS client.
“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.”
— Rocco Sbardella, CEO, Mobile Magic, Portland
Rocco is a USM grad, software developer and cancer survivor who took Top Gun Prep and is in the Top Gun class of 2013. He is developing augmented reality software for local business marketing.
“I so much appreciate all you have provided for me and Cloud 9, LLC last year. Without folks like you our effort would be so much more difficult. I am sincerely fortunate to have benefited greatly from your support and guidance.”
— Gordon Monk, Founder, Cloud 9 LLC, Portland
After a successful career writing software for others around the country, Gordon Monk is collaborating with a USM linguistics faculty member and a number of USM students to build an innovative software company here in Maine.
“Top Gun was great opportunity to get out of the business owner bubble and bounce ideas off/solve problems with other entrepreneurs.”
— Sara Rademaker, Founder, American Unagi
American Unagi was a graduate of the 2015 Top Gun Class.
“For the past four months I have been in Top Gun’s entrepreneur accelerator program in Portland. I have been working on an easy/accessible way to bring mindfulness and self-regulation strategies into the classroom and beyond-ultimately sharing tools for stress management and creating a trauma informed approach for the whole child.
Top Gun’s program has given me deep insight, connection and clarity on how to make this vision become a reality. Deep gratitude for all the attention that was put into this program by the top gun staff. It was clearly thought out and well executed. The participants consistently showed determination, drive and grit which was truly inspirational.”
— Julie Campilio, Director & Founder, Radiant Beginnings Yoga
Radiant Beginnings was a graduate of the 2017 Top Gun class.
“The experience of participating in Top Gun, including helpful feedback, allowed me to keep improving and refining the vision and pitch, culminating in a 25 page business plan I completed in January, and a set of 7 years’ worth of financial projections.Top Gun is a key program, without which I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
— Carter Newell, President, Pemaquid Mussel Farms