Recap Video of MSCW 2015
About The Conference
Maine Startup & Create Week is a week-long conference for innovators, entrepreneurs and small business owners, mentors, investors, and anyone interested in Maine's small businesses. The conference kicked off on June 22nd and went strong until the 27th. The conference was held at various locations in downtown Portland. Topics focused on three main areas: Food Innovation, Small Business, and Scale & Growth. Despite the variation of topics discussed, a common theme persisted. The ability to constantly evolve and adapt as times and technologies change is critical.
Young & Aspiring Entrepreneurs
According to Credit Union Magazine, Millennials are burdened by tough times. Many people between the ages of 18 and 34 are underemployed, are facing significant student loan debt, and are less likely to borrow or save money. Millennials are also strongly inclined to seek independent opportunities, including entrepreneurship. Yet, for Millennials, the biggest hurdles seem to be time and money.
For young people seeking such opportunities, a conference like Maine Startup & Create Week is the ideal networking and learning site. And, pursuing unique opportunities is a good skill to have as an entrepreneur. Togue Brawn, of Downeast Dayboat Scallops said, "When you see opportunities that aren't quite where you thought they would be, be open to pursuing them." Jean of Putney Inc., also stated that an essential quality of an entrepreneur is the ability to see opportunities that others overlook.
The chance to network and meet other business leaders is as important as the lessons learned in the sessions. Cheryl Heller, Founding Chair of Design for the Social Innovation Department at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, emphasized the importance of building and maintaining relationships. "We forget that it's actually relationships that make things work. We forget that we need to communicate, and that's how things are built." Building a strong business means building strong relationships.
Each session of the conference featured a panel of industry leaders and successful entrepreneurs. Topics ranged from Stories of Successful Pivots, From Farm to Fork, and Owner-Operator Syndrome to Social Media, Crowdfunding, and When to Innovate. The learning and networking that happened during the conference was invaluable for Maine's young and aspiring entrepreneurs.
"Have a big vision, but see how you can start on a small scale." Jess Eddy, Co-Founder, Phin & Phebes Ice Cream gives valuable advice on getting started in business. It's also important to not only focus on bringing in dollars. "There is a natural tendency to focus on making the next dollar," said Ezra Fishman, head of marketing for Wistia. Instead, spending time thinking about the brand and the company's vision will be helpful in guiding the company.
"Start with the why over the what." Said Donato Tramuto. Go in with a strategy, but always remember your core mission.
Becoming advocates for and supporters of the entrepreneurial community in Maine is an opportunity to help grow Maine's small businesses, and help young people achieve their goals and success. MSCW 2015 was an inspiring and eye-opening conference. For anyone interested in entrepreneurship, this conference is well worth attending. If you missed it, make sure to mark your calendars for next years' conference (June 20 - 25 2016).
Stay inspired, Young & Free!