5 Damn Good Reasons to Startup in Maine

June 11, 2014

12:00 pm

I say Maine, you say…lobster?

Maine’s startup scene might not be nationally famous like its lobsters, but crustaceans aren’t the only things cooking in the Pine Tree State. If local entrepreneurs and investors get their way, Maine’s startup scene will soon be sizzling. 

Of course, not all the ingredients are there yet. As the Portland Press Herald reports, Maine could still use some major success stories, more tech talent, and more self-confidence. Our Maine mixer and startup showcase coming up on June 19 will hopefully play a part in that. 

But things are definitely brewing. Here are some of the top reasons to startup in Maine: 

Resources

If you’re looking for an overview of Maine’s startup scene, look no further than Startup Portland, a community that provides information and connections to local entrepreneurs. Among the resources you’ll find listed there are Portland coworking spaces like Casco Bay Tech Hub, Engine Room, Maine Business Center, PelotonLabs, and Think Tank. Two nonprofits, Blackstone Accelerates Growth and the Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development, provide mentorship and connections to local startups. 

As far as events go, you can meet fellow Maine entrepreneurs at the monthly Maine Entrepreneurs meetup, the Portland Startuppers Meetup, and the monthly happy hour Pub Hub. If you’re in Maine this week, be sure to check out Maine StartUp and Create Week, including a Startup Weekend Portland on June 13.

Mentorship

“Maine is the retirement community of choice for many extraordinarily accomplished executives who buy into the state ethos of giving back,” says Jess Knox, lead organizer of Maine StartUp and Create Week. You can find advice and support through the Maine Mentor Network, or get in touch with one of over 90 mentors at Portland SCORE, which also hosts over 100 workshops per year.

Funding

Early in your lifecycle, you can hit up the Maine Angels. Founded in 2003, the group has over 65 members and has made over $11 million in investments. When you’re ready for VC funding, get in touch with Portland’s Black Point Group, North Atlantic Capital, Masthead Venture Partners, or Common Good Ventures. Other firms that invest in Maine startups include Borealis Ventures and CEI Ventures

The state government is also trying to support high-growth tech startups. Both the Small Enterprise Growth Fund and the Maine Technology Institute (MTI) are publicly funded, and MTI has given out over $100 million in grants, loans, and equity. In March, the state of Maine also passed a crowdfunding bill similar to the national JOBS Act version, which hasn’t gone into effect yet.

Office space

Although Maine’s cost of living is nothing to brag about – except perhaps compared to California – commercial real estate can be more affordable. “For startups looking to keep overhead costs low, Portland has great workspaces: from office buildings and warehouses to historic and hip downtown lofts. These great spaces all come with rents that are a third of the cost of equivalent space in Boston and a quarter of the cost in New York,” says Knox.

Fun 

And of course, the lobsters are still there, too. As well as whales to watch, lighthouses to visit, woods to hike, and oceans to kayak and swim. In fact, Maine was ranked 5th for quality of life in 2013, and in 2012, Portland grabbed the titles of #7 greenest city, #3 best city for education, #3 best city for families, and (last but not least) #5 best city for hipsters

Join us next Thursday, June 19, for our Maine mixer and startup showcase in Portland! 

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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact [email protected]

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