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Maine Startup & Create Week: Celebrating entrepreneurship

Increasingly, the word “startup” and its accompanying buzz phrases are creeping into Portland conversations. In restaurants, bars and coffee shops, “scalables,” “drilldowns,” “A/B testings,” and “silos,” pepper overheard snippets of conversation, crowding out the usual musings on the moribund Red Sox or the merits of cask-conditioned ale. The buzz has started to be noticed nationally, as evidenced by Portland's placement in the SpareFoot Blog's "Top 5 Under-the-Radar Tech Hubs."
Entrepreneur talk is clearly in the air, and the inaugural, highly ambitious Maine Startup & Create Week promises to shine a bright light on the startup work being done in Maine, and far beyond. Running from June 12-20, Maine Startup & Create Week describes itself as a “week-long conference in Portland, Maine celebrating, entrepreneurs and startups.”
With topics ranging from pet tech and payment solutions to funding strategies and the maker movement, the conference covers a lot of ground, much of it peopled by members of our creative community – for starters, people working in design, code, app development, sustainability, marketing – pretty much every corner of our creative world.
Maine Startup & Create Week is much more than an impressive collection of speakers, many of whom are coming from out of state with national credentials. There are several opportunities for mingling/pitching/networking and other “-ings” that may arise, including:
  • Propel entreverge Awards (June 12): To honor local entrepreneurs.
  • Startup Weekend (June 13-15): Where local participants select, develop and present startup ideas to entrepreneurial leaders.
  • House of Genius (June 16): To celebrate the chapter launch of the House of Genius, Portland Maine; and
  • 2 Degrees Portland (June 18): Creative Portland’s uber-connecting service for people “from away.”

The takeaway

So (to borrow another buzz phrase), what will the all-important takeaways be? According to the website, Maine Startup & Create Week attendees will:
  • Meet passionate and accomplished people.
  • Learn about new ventures in Maine.
  • Be inspired to think bigger.
  • Enjoy Portland and fall in love with Maine.
(For those of us lucky enough to be living here, we can attest to the last bullet.)

Highlights and content

While the conference has a strong Maine component, the scope of national presenters speaks to Maine Startup & Create Week’s ambitions that extend far beyond the state’s borders. “Maine has such a vibrant innovative, startup, and creative entrepreneurship community, and we’re eager to show it off and create new connections with attendees from across North America,” says Jess Knox, MSCW lead organizer and co-founder of Startup Portland.
A sampling from the impressive list of speakers/events includes: 
  • “Think Big" Kick-Off Bash (June 15): Presentations from Franck Nouyrigat, co-founder of Startup Weekend; Karen Mills, former administrator, U.S. Small Business Administration; Red Gendron, UMaine men’s hockey coach; Adam Burke, the TreeHouse Institute; and Rich Brooks, Flyte New Media. 
  • The Intersection of Law & Innovation Panel (June 16): Includes Maine Law alum Justin Weiss, assistant general Counsel, Yahoo. 
  • Living In Maine and Doing World Class Things (June 16):  A panel of Mainers who are changing their industries with smart ideas and good business sense. Includes: Maine Law alum Trevor Hughes, International Association of Privacy Professionals; and Steve Koltai, Koltai & Assoc. 
  • On-the-ground Experience for Building Startup Communities (June 17): Strategies and tactics for building startup and innovation communities.  Includes Greg Tehven, founder of Emerging Prairie; Andy Stoll, SeedHere Studio, Cedar Rapids, IA; Emily Madero, the Idea Village, New Orleans, LA; Don Gooding, Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development; Jess Knox, Blackstone Accelerates Growth.
The above list scratches the surface of the programming. Explore Maine Startup & Create Week, and learn about other events.



  • Technology and education
  • Innovation in payment technologies
  • Building startup and innovation communities
  • Women in entrepreneurship
  • Innovative technology and clean energy
  • The maker movement and prototyping labs
  • Innovation, technology and sports
  • Emerging funding models for startups and entrepreneurs
  • Innovation and sustainable food systems
  • Healthcare Informatics
  • Scaling specialty food businesses
  • Pet tech & biotech
  • International entrepreneurship
  • The corporate internet of things

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