Why I Want a Vibrant Startup Community in Portland Maine

June 19, 2014 | Startups

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I love Maine's Startup Community

This week is the first Maine Startup and Create Week. It has been an inspiring week of events. Some of the speakers have talked about certain sectors of activity such as sustainable food, specialty materials or marine innovation. But I have been focused on the events around how to build a local startup community in Maine. I’ve been learning from Brad Feld who came in via video feed to talk about startup communities; a panel of people who have worked to grow the startup community in Boston; and a larger panel of people from across the US increasing the creative and entrepreneurial communities in places such as Boulder, New Orleans and Fargo, ND.

I have been involved with some of the work behind Maine Startup and Create Week by participating in the branding and marketing committee and specifically we designed those little fold-up schedule/maps that fit into your lanyards. So I knew this week was something I wanted to be a part of, and get behind.

But the energy, new ideas and vision shared by speakers and attendees has been inspirational.

Am I a startup or do I support startups?

In many of the panel discussions or in conversations with other attendees, people have asked if I’m an entrepreneur. I have a hard time answering that. I definitely don’t consider myself a startup since I’ve now been in business for more than thirteen years. Some people might call me an entrepreneur, but I tend to think of myself as a small business owner.

So if I’m not a startup and I don’t even consider myself an entrepreneur, why do I care so much about startups?

There are so many personal reasons.

1. New business for my business

From a selfish business development view, new businesses make good clients. Startups need branding services such as naming, logo design, web sites and content-based marketing. This is what Visible Logic does. So the more new business that are started, the more likely I am to get new clients. And while I work with many clients remotely, I love working in-person when I can.

2. More high-tech businesses in Maine

I have a particular interest and affinity for working with businesses that need to promote a complex product or service. I am not particularly interested in consumer products, but give me a high-tech startup any day. I’m great at understanding what they do and translating the benefit of that product or service to others. The term startup (as discussed this week) is highly connected to the idea of high-tech startups. I’d particularly love it if we had more high-tech startups in Maine.

3. Economic development for Portland

I want Portland to be stronger economically. I moved here in 2005 for the quality of life and my family and I absolutely love it here. But while my business allows me to work with clients all over the world (and we do), there are many people I know who cannot find a job that pays well and challenges them. It saddens me when I hear about friends leaving or considering leaving because there is a lack of good jobs. I think it’s much more likely that we’ll gain jobs through small businesses and startups, than coming from some miraculous relocation of a larger company.

4. I love startups even if I never start one

I have a few ideas percolating in my own head that I may launch someday. But even if I never do, I have a true interest in hearing about other start up ideas and helping others get their own businesses going.

5. Startups have great energy

I love the energy and drive of startup founders. I am very lucky to have found my passion: communication through words and graphics. I know many people who never find a passion for anything work-related and it can make earning money a real drag. Supporting these high-energy folks interested starting up new ventures has got to be good for a community.

6. Create more pride for Maine

I want my children to be able to stay in Maine because of the quality of life, but still have rewarding careers. Did I tell you about how smart my kids are? Well I expect great things from them and I don’t want them to feel that to stay in Maine is a sign of a short coming. I hope by the time they are adults, this startup community will be thriving.

7. I want more people to move here

I am not afraid of economic growth for the region. There are many people in Maine who fear that if we attract too much business or make too much progress we will ruin all the beauty we enjoy. I feel that we are so, so, so far away from that happening that we need to stop worrying about that issue. The benefits of more density within Portland and more people in general will far outweigh the disadvantages for quite a long time. We have a community (myself included) that is very committed to protecting our natural environment, I feel very confident we can manage the growth wisely. We should not be afraid to share our secret about why Maine is so great.

Why do YOU want a great startup community in Maine?

Maine Startup and Create Week has helped me to distill in my mind why I am so interested in the startup community, even when I don’t define my business as a startup. I also feel more committed about the importance of each person needing to figure out what his or her role will be to help that community grow. I’m not quite sure yet what my ongoing role will be (besides getting involved with the second annual Maine Startup & Create Week), but I will be giving it some good thought in the next few weeks and months.

Why do you want a vibrant startup community in Maine?

How has Maine Startup and Create Week has helped you out?

Do you have a plan for how you will improve our startup community?

Please leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you.

2 comments

  1. dcurran | June 23, 2014 at 6:45 pm

    Great post! I totally agree that Portland is a great place for startups. It has just the right amount of urban vibe so people can make connections at their local coffee shop as well as be inspired by nature by heading only a few minutes out of downtown. Or if they are as lucky as we are here at Visible Logic, by looking right out their window for a great ocean view.

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