Top Gun is a program that runs annually from February through May. Participants in the program are competitively selected, promising entrepreneurs. In the program, they are paired with mentors and to work on advancing their vision while also participating in high-impact weekly gatherings held in Portland, Bangor, Rockland, Lewiston/Auburn and new this year, A food, beverage and agriculture focused Top Gun Program in Waterville.
In the program, entrepreneurs accelerate their progress by…
listening to successful entrepreneurs discuss vital topics, then applying lessons learned to their own businesses;
workshopping with their mentors, and peers in the program
sharing perspectives with others facing similar challenges; and
developing and practicing their pitches.
Top Gun identifies high potential entrepreneurs in Maine through a competitive application process in January. In February they are matched with mentors who help guide them as they continue to develop their innovative products, business models, and companies. The classes of six to 12 entrepreneurs in each location will convene weekly for networking, workshopping and mentor meetings over dinner. Sessions can include opportunities for pitch practice, brief presentations by experienced entrepreneurs, and lively discussions about such diverse topics as salesmanship, bootstrapping, hiring, firing and legal issues.
The program concludes by bringing together a statewide community of 300 to celebrate and encourage these high potential entrepreneurial teams at the Top Gun Showcase. 10 entrepreneurs are selected through a round of semi-finals in each location to give a five-minute pitch in front of panelists (which may include potential investors, business leaders, and the press). Participants get to engage in the experience of promoting their business to a relevant and appreciative audience.
Is Top Gun right for you?
Previous participants have included technology companies (such as apps, cleantech, and specialty materials), innovative food companies (such as mass market mead, artisanal chocolate and spelt bagels), as well as service companies with a unique twist. What binds them together are high aspirations to achieve growth through innovation.
Of the 200+ companies that have been through Top Gun since 2009, 40% were already generating revenue, at an annual rate of up to $1 million. Most of the rest were in product and business model development, with a handful still in research or in the product and business model definition stage.
Top Gun teams have included twenty-somethings, AARP-demographic entrepreneurs and every age in between.
The fee for Top Gun is $500 per team, just 10% of actual costs.
Applications for 2019 are open.