MCED 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.

5 Minutes with Rachel Green
Rachel Green is an attorney at Preti Flaherty who practices with the firm's Business Law Group in its Portland office. She is passionate about helping locally owned businesses of all sizes succeed. Through Preti’s Launch Pad program, Rachel helps startups and early stage companies with some of the key legal acts of business formation and provides Launch Pad participants with expertise across a diverse spectrum of legal matters, including general corporate law, mergers and acquisitions, real estate and other transactions. 
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5 Minutes with Josh Corbeau of Cloudport


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Portland, Maine’s Startup Tech Scene Surges

Portland, Maine’s Startup Tech Scene Surges

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Use an Analogy to Pack a Punch… Togue Brawn shows you how

from Guest Blogger David Lee:


Two weeks ago, I heard one of the coolest examples of how analogies make your point pack a

punch. It happened at a “pitch fest” hosted by the

Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development’s  

Top Gun program.

Ten entrepreneurs pitched their ideas to an audience

of several hundred, competing for a $10,000 prize.

It was also a chance to hone their  pitch craft.

Several entrepreneurs stood out for their speaking


One of them was Togue Brawn, founder of Maine

Dayboat Scallops. who will be speaking on June

24th at the upcoming Maine Startup and Create


First, she clearly had passion for the impact her

business would have in the lives of her customers

and the fishermen she served.

In fact, after the event, I was talking about what a dynamo she was to a seasoned angel

investor–a man who has seen it all. He laughed and said, in true When Harry Met Sally

fashion–“Yeah…I want whatever she’s having!”

Besides her  passion, one of the other aspects of Togue’s talk that stood out for me was how she

used a powerful analogy to capture the difference her business makes.

In Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath cite analogies as being one of the six power tools of the

communicator who wants to make their idea “sticky”–i.e. people can’t get it out of their heads.

Why are analogies such a powerful communication tool?

1. They translate the unfamiliar into the familiar…making your idea easier to understand.

2. They translate the abstract into the tangible. The brain has a much easier time

processing concrete images and situations from real life than it does making sense out

of abstract concepts. Also, because concrete images and real life situations have a

strong sensory component, they evoke more emotions that abstract ideas that only

involve the intellect. BTW…notice that this point is an abstract concept. Now…let’s share

a specific situation and concrete image that will make this point much more


Before you hear Togue’s analogy, here’s some quick context, so it makes more sense…

As part of her Origin Story, she shared her epiphany about the plight of Maine’s scallop

fishermen and their customers. Most commercially fished scallops that are caught in federal

waters in boats that are out to sea for a week or more. These scallops, when sold to consumers as

“fresh” can be 12 days old. Maine’s scallop fishermen are all of the dayboat variety, meaning

they go out and come back with their catch in one day.

Their scallops are a day old. But…because no delivery system existed to get these into

customers’ hands, Maine day scallop fishermen can’t charge the premium price their premium

product deserves. Instead, their uber-fresh scallops have to go to the same processing plants as

the federal water harvested scallops that are several day’s old. So day old scallops get mixed in

with a week or more old scallops.

Now here’s the analogy Togue used to make her point about how this didn’t make sense:

“That’s like pouring a bottle of Dom Perignon into a bathtub of Barefoot bubbly,” she noted.

When I heard that, I thought “Score! What a way to capture the difference.”

While there’s a reason why Barefoot wine is a popular brand, there’s a reason why Dom

Perignon has a cachet that popular consumer brands’ don’t. If you made Dom Perignon, would

you want it blended into any popular consumer wine and sold at that price or…would you want

to get the price your product should command?

While giving the factual differences between scallops harvested in federal waters vs. those

harvested by local scallop fishermen made for a clear comparison at the abstract, intellectual

level, Togue’s analogy made it tangible. The listener could instantly get the difference at a

deeper, more experiential level.

Hence, the power of a good analogy.

So…if you want YOUR ideas to pack a punch, start generating analogies to make your points hit


To learn more about how to use analogies and stories to make your ideas more interesting and

persuasive, come to:

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Guest Blog from Gregory Fryer of Verrill Dana
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MCED awarded grant from Bank of America Charitable Foundation
MCED's Susan Ruhlin and Don Gooding accepting "a big check" from Bank of America's charming Bridget Dionne
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Props to Mr. Descartes

Todd O'Brien, DPM

O'Brien Medical, LLC

Top Gun Grad 2012

As I delved into the suggested reading for Top Gun, I was surprised by some striking similarities with

my medical training. In particular, it appears that the venerable scientific method had at long last

found its way into the realm of entrepreneurship. Building on the work of ancient Greek scientists

ranging from Thales and Aristotle down to the great Arab scholar Alhazen, the modern scientific

method was crystallized in Renee Descartes’, Discourse on Method. This process of forming hypotheses

based on observation and conjecture and then testing the validity of those educated guesses through

experimentation and data collection is well known among scientists and non-scientists alike. The

iterative twist of repeating experiments based on new data creates the ubiquitous feedback loop seen

across numerous fields.

Now thanks to thought leaders like Steve Blank and Alexander Osterwalder (see his book Business

Model Generation), those same scientific principles are being applied to startup entrepreneurship.

Instead of scientists “interrogating” the nature of the physical world, entrepreneurial scientists are

interrogating the nature of potential markets for their products. This new approach encourages

entrepreneurs to test the validity of their business models through a small scale, iterative process before

taking on the significant risks inherent in launching a company.

This seems to make sense given my training as a biology major, podiatrist and inventor. As has been

pointed out by our Top Gun mentors, many of us intent upon changing the world come from a technical

orientation. I believe these same scientific skills can be leveraged to our advantage in this new

approach to the startup. The concepts of experimental design, data collection and the feedback loop

are already such a familiar part of the mental landscape for many of us that its somewhat reassuring to

be able to put them to use in our business ventures.

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MCED Welcomes Summer Intern
MCED looks forward to working with our Innovate for Maine Fellow over the summer.
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Cool Companies for Maine grads

Last night I visited USM in Gorham for the final class of this semester's "Innovation Engineering - Create" class. I haven't taught the class this year - I've been trained to teach the second course, "Innovation Engineering - Communicate" and I was there to convince some students to sign on. Valerie Lamont and I are scheduled to teach it in the fall.

After doing my pitch I hung around to see how the students were doing. I was pleased to see several student presentations about innovations they thought were interesting.

One of the students (a class star, I was told) showed a video of a car "rally" that takes place in Morocco, the only rally in the world where women are the only drivers. She was obviously excited about the event, and more generally, high adreneline outdoor events.

So I shared with her and the class one of the Cool Companies of Maine. Aura 360 is in Portland - actually just down the hall from us at 30 Danforth St. They produce and own some crazy high adreneline sports on behalf of major global brands. "This company is in Maine?" she wondered. 

YES - there are lots of cool companies in Maine! She dreamed of traveling the world for them.

Connecting smart undergrads to cool companies is part of the Blackstone Accelerates Growth mission, and I hope to be spreading the word about more cool companies in the future!

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Top Gun applications coming to a close June 25!

Once again, we have received some very promising applications from some intriguingly innovative ventures. It's time to put Maine back on the grid and introduce the rest of the region to our talent and vision. The Top Gun program continues to receive a great deal of support from both the private and public sectors in the form of mentors and financial contribution. I am really pumped about this year's curriculum and can't wait to introduce the class of 2010.

If interested in applying, don't delay any further,

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