Friday March 22, 2013 | 06:44 PM

I'm at Portland's Peloton Labs for this evening, live-blogging Maine's first-ever "Startup Weekend" event (find more background here in my Thursday post).

When I arrived at 5:30 p.m., participants were streaming in and organizers were still hard at work nailing down last-minute details from a corner conference room. Half an hour later, the rest of Peloton Labs' open-plan first floor is packed with participants, organizers and coaches mingling over a dinner of takeout pizza.

Before things got terribly crowded in here I managed to chat for a minute with organizer John Voltz, Executive Director of Blackstone Accelerates Growth, a 3-year, $3 million privately-funded effort to spur entrepreneurship and the innovation economy here in Maine.

"Startup Weekend is a fantastic event," says Voltz. "If you want more companies in Maine, it's like a muscle, you need to exercise it. What we're doing this weekend is aiming high, collaborating and innovating quickly — skills we need to make successful businesses. Regardless of what happens to the business ideas here, we've got this exercise that's going to help us for the long run."

You might know Voltz's brother Stephen as one half of EepyBird, the famous duo of the Mentos and Diet Coke viral videos. Stephen was standing next to his brother while I was questioning him and told me about their days working as sibling street performers in San Francisco (one of their stunts involved a machete making close encounters with the young John's neck). Stephen will be one of the speakers at this evening's kickoff — more on that later.

I'll be live-blogging from here for the rest of the weekend, so stay tuned. You can also follow along on Twitter by following the hashtag #swportlandmaine.

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About the Author

I'm an economics wonk and an online content producer for the Portland Press Herald.

You can get in touch with me by emailing cmilneil [at], or by calling 791-6307, or by following @vigorousnorth. Also check out my business and economics list on Twitter.

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