November 5, 2013

TechWalk expo aimed at aspiring Maine entrepreneurs

The event, sponsored by the Maine Technology Institute, is expected to draw up to 600 people.

By J. Craig Anderson canderson@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

What does it take to make it as a high-tech entrepreneur in Maine? That’s the theme of this year’s TechWalk, an annual conference and expo organized by the Maine Technology Institute.

click image to enlarge

Ocean Renewable Power Company will be one of the exhibitors at this year’s TechWalk. Here, John Ferland, vice president of project development, stands inside a composite hydro kinetic turbine.

2010 Press Herald File Photo

TechWalk 2013 is scheduled for noon to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Holiday Inn by the Bay in Portland. The expo portion of the event, with more than 70 exhibitors, will begin at 5 p.m.

The Maine Technology Institute and the event’s lead sponsor, Blackstone Accelerates Growth, expect 500 to 600 people to attend, said Scott Burnett, the institute’s director of marketing and analytics. The conference and expo are expected to draw entrepreneurs, companies, investors, legislators and business service providers from across New England.

Burnett said the conference is for anyone who wants to learn more about how to start and grow a company. Its workshops and panel discussions will cover topics including “Maine Companies: How We Got Started,” “Vetting and Pitching Your Idea,” and “Investors’ Perspective: What We Look For.”

The conference is sold out, Burnett said, but anyone can attend the expo, which is free.

High-tech startups exhibiting at the TechWalk will include Chimani LLC, a Yarmouth-based developer of mobile apps for visitors to national parks.

Chimani’s founder, Kerry Gallivan, said he has had an exciting journey from the moment of his “big idea” while hiking in Acadia National Park to the company’s current product line of about 45 apps.

Gallivan said his company has benefited from being in Maine, receiving grants and other assistance from groups like the Maine Technology Institute and the Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development’s Top Gun program.

He said the conference is a great place for current and aspiring entrepreneurs to talk, listen and learn. “It’s just a great networking opportunity.”

Contrary to popular belief that tech startups are the exclusive domain of young people, Burnett said, studies show that the average high-tech entrepreneur is older than 45. Many of them work for years in the corporate environment before striking out on their own.

“It does take a little more courage to be an entrepreneur,” he said. “The risks are higher, but the rewards can be great.”

For more information about TechWalk 2013, go to mainetechnology.org/techwalk2013.

J. Craig Anderson can be contacted at 791-6390 or at:

canderson@pressherald.com

Twitter: @jcraiganderson

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