Maine Startup and Create Week got underway in earnest Sunday evening with its “Think Big” kickoff event at Port City Music Hall.

The speakers included former Obama Cabinet member Karen Gordon Mills, University of Maine hockey coach Red Gendron and Portland’s own Adam Burk, co-founder of The Treehouse Institute and the TEDxDirigo event. Each riffed on the idea of thinking big.

Gendron pointed out that he has two Stanley Cup rings for his time with the New Jersey Devils’ operation, but he’s also been fired three times. His lesson? Failure is often part of success. You can’t have one without the other.

Rich Brooks from Flyte New Media also spoke.

“Dream bigger dreams,” he urged. “Have more audacious goals.”

Another notable speaker was Franck Nouyrigat, a co-founder of Startup Weekend, a global phenomenon in which groups of people get together all over the world to launch startup companies in 54 hours.

Portland wrapped up its third Startup Weekend on Sunday. The winning team was the Rwanda Coffee Co. Next weekend there will be a Startup Weekend in the Middle East city of Gaza.

“We’re in more countries than Starbucks,” Nouyrigat said.

Nouyrigat began his talk with a short rendition of Louis Armstrong’s “What A Wonderful World” before encouraging the crowd to discard excuses and to think big. He pointed out that the average age for someone starting a new business is 44 in the United States, so age certainly shouldn’t be an excuse. The average startup capital needed for a high-growth company is $25,000, so lack of capital can’t be an excuse.

His point? Excuses are just that: excuses.

“You guys have no excuse to not be amazing,” he said.

Whit Richardson can be contacted at 791-6463 or at:

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Twitter: @whit_richardson