Bean Boots & Startups: Tapping Into the Maine entrepreneurial network

There’s been so many awesome things going on in our ecosystem recently, sometimes I forget that the work we do is all about the people and the relationships. In that theme, we recently asked folks who attended Maine Startup & Create Week to send us their thoughts on what the week meant to them.  We’ve gotten some amazing responses.  Here’s the first, please meet Kate Shorey:

“I had been back in Maine for a week after spending 5 years in Washington, DC and a year in San Francisco. I was sitting at my parents’ kitchen table in Sweden, and switched on the TV to catch the weather on WCSH6, when an advertisement caught my eye: “Maine Startup and Create Week in Portland, ME”.  I did a double take; Maine has a startup week?

I have always been one to attend conferences, listen in on panels, and engage in leadership activities – but never in Maine. Ever since graduating Fryeburg Academy and then St. Lawrence University, I hadn’t invested much time into my home state. That’s why I had moved away, right? To join the action elsewhere.  Don’t get me wrong, though – I have immense pride in Maine, and flaunt my Mainer-isms everywhere I go. But if someone had asked me about the startup scene or what innovations were happening in Maine, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you.

I was intrigued by this upcoming conference: who would be there? What kinds of businesses and industry would be featured? What skills and workshops would be available? Does Portland have the infrastructure for this kind of gathering? I raced to the computer to investigate and learned there would be three tracks: food innovation, small business, and scale & growth. Curiosity got the best of me and, without much hesitation, I registered for the entire week and found a place to crash in Portland.

I could spend the next few paragraphs outlining the amazing speakers and events, but there’s more to it.  Maine Startup and Create Week (MSCW) changed my course of action, and also helped me reframe how I think about this great state. 

There is a level of inter-connectedness that surpasses any other city I’ve lived in. Folks I’ve interacted with are taking strategic courses of action to make Maine industries and businesses thrive, and are at the forefront of progressive ideas and innovation. I wholeheartedly believe that Maine (and Portland, specifically) are going to be recognized as a leader in food, technology, community activism, and small business. 

MSCW exposed me to tech, food and business industry activities that I didn’t know existed, and most importantly proved that Maine has an immense amount of potential for professionals and entrepreneurs. 

The result of MSCW? I moved to Portland immediately. 

Maine has a vast, connected, and accessible network, and each day I see new and creative ideas coming to life. 

I’m proud of my home state. And I’m proud of my people. For some, however, Portland will be too small; it won’t be ‘busy’ enough. But that’s okay. Our community and way of life is special, and for those who are able to embrace it, I welcome you. And maybe I’m in that category now too: I’ve finally made it back to my Maine roots and I’m proud of how we are growing.” 

Written by Katie Shorey  @katieshorey Contact:

This is why we do the work.  Onward.

Jess Knox

About Jess Knox

Born in Waterville, Jess Knox is a former high-ranking U.S. Small Business Administration official in Washington. Now living in Southern Maine, he is passionate about growing prosperity via entrepreneurship, innovation and startups in Maine. These days he helps companies pursue growth through his firm Olympico Strategies as a consultant and movement-maker. He also co-founded Maine Startup & Create Week