There are so many good ideas out there, so many businesses getting started and so many start-ups growing in our area. It really is a neat time and place to be. So many SMBME attendees are somewhere on the path of entrepreneurship or are closely tied to a local start-up. So we wanted to focus on that for a month.
After some feedback from attendees and hearing a story on NPR, we decided to talk specifically about opportunities you may not know about to help you start, grow and fund your business. For this breakfast we welcomed four speakers, all with unique perspectives.
Susan kicked things off by talking about the Maine Center for entrepreneurial Development’s Top Gun program – a simple but effective program that boils down to people helping people. The 5-month program is designed to accelerate entrepreneurial development using training, mentoring and the development of community connections. 83 companies have gone through the program since 2009 and 90% of them are still active.
A Top Gun program graduate, Julie offered the perspective of an entrepreneur that has benefited from and experienced first hand the resources available, including Maine’s Startup Weekend. Her company bizzieMe essentially started at Startup Weekend, which is a three-day startup crash course during which teams form around top ideas (as determined by popular vote) and embark on a three-day frenzy of business model creation, coding, designing, and market validation. The weekend ends with presentations in front of local entrepreneurial leaders. Not sure if pitching is your thing? Julie thought the same thing…turns out it gets a lot easier.
After Amanda heard a story about Community Sourced Capital on NPR, she knew she just had to get them to come speak at SMBME. Lucky for us, Brent joined us from Virginia to talk about the how Community Sourced Capital hooks up small businesses with local residents as a loan source.
Small businesses that want to raise capital can run campaigns on the CSC website. Community members can take part in funding a loan for a business they choose by purchasing something called a Square, a $50 unit of the larger loan made to a business. Squares are simple loans: $50 loaned and $50 repaid. It’s not a donation. It’s not an investment. Campaigns last from the moment a business starts fundraising until it pays back its loan in full. At the time of the breakfast, local Maine business Hemphill’s Horses, Feed, and Saddlery was in the process of raising capital and they were successful. You can view the campaign on the CSC website.
Brad closed the morning by telling us about new laws and new options available to entrepreneurs and growing small businesses at the state level, including a new “crowd investing” bill.
We would never be able to pull these events off without the help of our sponsors: Gorham Savings Bank, Vreeland Marketing, Hall Internet Marketing and Others! Fair Trade Coffee