MCE helps innovators fill in the gaps between their deep industry expertise and the strategic business skills critical to launching a scalable, sustainable venture. Maine's unique economic and geographic challenges demand more that a traditional business incubator. They demand a catalyst.

Trade show exhibitors take note!

On Friday and Saturday, January 8th and 9th, Maine companies that exhibit at trade shows will have an opportunity polish their game with two seminars sponsored by the Maine Small Business Development Centers: Developing Sales Materials for Trade Shows and Trade Show Success with Bruce Baker.

Developing Sales Materials for Trade Shows on Friday evening is designed to prepare wholesale exhibitors for the New England Made Giftware & Specialty Food Show. Steve Lovejoy will present on how to use the creative process, descriptive language, graphics and photography to help increase the power of the trade show experience.

On Saturday, Trade Show Success with Bruce Baker will be an all day event where business owners can learn everything they need to know to make their next trade show a success. Topics will include creating trade show booths that sell, proven ideas for booth displays and more.

For more information click here

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Create your best Top Gun application by scheduling a PreFlight session today

The deadline for submitting Top Gun applications is fast approaching on January 22nd. If you or someone you know is interested in the program, but have not yet compiled your application materials, sign up for a Top Gun PreFlight session today.

Top Gun PreFlight is a series of trainings designed to help companies create their best Top Gun Application. The program is conducted in one to one and half hour classes focused on creating:
• the Business Model Canvas (required for the application)
• Pitching Basics (focused on creating a pitch deck to be presented with the application)
• Mentoring (Twenty minute session offered to help companies identify their needs and refine their vision and/or pitch. 

Top Tun PreFlight is open to anyone interested in sharpening their game whether they plan to submit to the Top Gun program or not. 

Top Gun Maine is the competitive accelerator program that has been helping Maine’s most promising early stage, scalable, innovation-based businesses launch strong and lasting Maine businesses since 2009. The highly-selective program accepts 30 to 35 companies statewide, distributed amongst three locations: Portland, Bangor and the Midcoast.

Top Gun 2016 will run weekly from February 27th through June 9th this year, culminating in a showcase pitch off event in June in which two entrepreneurs selected from each location deliver their pitches to a question and answer panel of judges.  The event takes place before an audience of over 300 potential investors, business leaders, and journalists.

Past participants in the Top Gun Program have included Pika energy,, Liquid Wireless, and Chimani.

To sign up for a PreFlight session in your area click on a link below

Portland    Bangor     Midcoast

To apply for the Top Gun program, fill out an inquiry form here and to receive an application and instructions. 

Anyone with questions about the program or how to apply should contact or call MCED directly at 207-774-8111.

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Mentor Highlight - Peter Klein

Peter Klein

Peter Klein is a relative newcomer to the Maine Mentor Network, bringing with him 25 years of experience as a CEO both in the states and abroad. He offers his expertise as a business generalist, founder, and fund raiser, with industry knowledge in healthcare/biotech/medical,  manufacturing, partnerships/alliances, strategic marketing and human resources to Maine companies looking to grow.

Among his many accomplishments Peter has:

- Started a company and grown it to over 200 employees
- Acquired 8 companies in the USA & Europe
- Sold 3 companies
- Raised over $80 million for 3 different companies
- Delivered significant return on investment to shareholders in 7 years
- Taken a company public and rang the bell at AMEX!

Peter's passion is strategy, marketing and acquisitions and his goal now is to share his experience with other CEO's and business owners to help them grow their businesses. MCED is pleased to place Peter on the roster of the Maine Mentor Network  whose mission is to connect promising Maine companies with mentors who specialize in the expertise they most need to help them grow. 

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5 Minutes with John Rooks of is early stage SaaS company that is working to transform the way companies report on and improve their sustainability performance. The group walked away with top cash prizes at two major pitching events over the past year: the Top Gun Showcase, and Steve Case's Rise of the Rest. 

John is the author of the book More Than Promote - A Monkeywrencher's Guide to Authentic Marketing and is a frequent writer and speaker on the intersection of Language, Culture and Sustainability. 

Having taught at the graduate degree level, worked on environmental compliance with the Department of Defense and consulted to Fortune 500 companies, John easily blends theory and practice into fun and digestible nuggets of information. We posted some questions to him on what motivates him, what he wishes he had known, and (I had to ask...) how Top Gun program helped the company achieve their success

Q: What ignited the spark to start How did the idea for your business come about?

A: For 14 years I ran a consulting firm helping companies understand and improve their environmental and social impact. I started that company because I was passionate about the planet and worried about the impact “normal” businesses have on it. A few years ago I realized that to counteract the massive negative impact, an equal and opposite positive impact would be required. I trust the science that ecosystem collapse is happening and time is running out. My clients, primarily large businesses, were focused on sustainability, but the other 99% of businesses didn’t have access to the tools. I saw an opportunity to scale the impact of the 99%. So we built Rapport as an opportunity to, as Steve Case said, “change the world on a global scale.”

Q: Looking back, what was the biggest thing "you didn't know that you didn't know" when you started out?

A: We didn’t know how robust and supportive the start-up ecosystem in Maine was. We were pretty insular in our thinking. That could have been a huge missed opportunity for us. TopGun was our first eye-opening experience in this regard. We were exposed to so many mentors and other great businesses that it become quickly obvious that we needed to take from and give back to that community.

Q: Where did your organization's funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it?

A: First money came from our own personal accounts, and friends and family who believed in the concept but didn’t require hard proof. Next, it was winning TopGun, then it was winning Rise of the Rest, from there we have had several follow-on equity investors. This has all been supported by a suite of grants and development loans from the Maine Technology Institute. Momentum is king, so communicating and building off “just previous” successes is a good strategy.

Q: What made you decide to apply for Top Gun and how did the program help you? 

A: We heard from a lot of people that Top Gun was a great springboard for start-ups. It was hard to ignore the advice, although we almost did. Like any start-up, time was short and we needed to make hard decisions about our priorities. Top Gun almost didn’t make the list. We knew that if we were going to participate, we had to go all in to the best of our ability. Eventually, we decided that one thing that was lacking from our business strategy was a broader community of start-ups with which to share ideas. We went into Top Gun with that as a goal.

Q: Rapport has been very successful and you've won some high profile pitch competitions. What changes have occurred in your life as a result of those successes?

A: We’ve been able to move from “Rapport as Concept” to “Rapport as Project” to “Rapport as Business.” We’ve moved into new larger office, hired two additional employees and have enough gas in the tank (funding) to super-charge the business and make our first run at scaling the business. 2015 was about building capacity. 2016 is about acceleration.

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