It’s been three weeks since Maine Startup and Create Week was the center of attention in Maine’s startup scene — and, if the event accomplished one of its goals, at least in the peripheral vision of the larger statewide community.

Since then, I’ve been talking with people about how they plan to maintain the momentum created during the week, which consisted of 44 events spread over eight days that attracted more than 3,000 people. The energy does not appear to have dissipated.

“It lit a fire under the asses of a lot of organizations and people and it’s created a ripple,” Johann Sabbath, a local entrepreneur and the COO of Tide Creative (check out my article about Tide Creative’s latest endeavor), told me over tacos recently.

Sabbath is an all-around entrepreneurship enthusiast and one of the co-founders of Startup Portland, an organization formed to champion Portland’s startup scene and act as a clearinghouse of information for those who may want to move here to join a startup or form their own.

“It lit a fire under Startup Portland’s ass,” he said. “The team is revisioning how to use the website and how to better organize and grow the startup community here.”

Patrick Kenney, a user experience web designer who is working with a few local startups out of his office in Think Tank, joined us for tacos. He’s working on redesigning the new Startup Portland website. He’s also finding other ways to build community.

Kenney has created a “startup book club,” where members read a book a month about business, startups, or other related topics. The current read is Essentialism by Greg McKeown. Full disclosure: This is right down my alley and have joined the club as an enthusiastic member.

From his perspective, all the pieces are falling together to make Portland a hotbed of startup culture, but it’s not there yet.

“All the other elements are in place, but just a couple things are missing,” Kenney said. “The image of Portland and southern Maine as innovative — that image has yet to take shape, but it’s starting to.”

Maine Startup and Create Week definitely brought some national attention to Maine’s startup scene, which has helped develop that image.

“Brad Feld, the guys from MassChallenge, the Cambridge Innovation Center, they actually showed up here and had a positive experience in Portland, Maine. That’s all it takes,” Sabbath said.

Jess Knox, lead organizer of the event and statewide innovation hub leader for Blackstone Accelerates Growth, took a long nap after the event wrapped up on June 20, but he’s already back to work to strengthen relationships formed during the week (he’s handwriting thank-you notes to speakers), plan events that will carry on the momentum from the week (there are Startup Weekends being planned for both Lewiston-Auburn and Bangor), and plotting how to make the 2nd annual Maine Startup and Create Week even better than the first.

“Now the real heavy lifting begins,” Knox told me recently.

Knox said there are three distinct areas where momentum needs to be maintained: within the Maine community to keep locals engaged, the need to strengthen connections Mainers forged during the week with people who traveled from out of state for the event, and around planning the 2nd annual Maine Startup and Create Week.

Each is seeing activity. People are inquiring about how to be involved in the community and Knox said several have voiced a desire to start local programs based on the House of Genius concept and 1 Million Cups, both are “events that create intentional collision between different innovators and creative entrepreneurs.” And not just in Portland, but in places like Eastport, Bangor and Biddeford.

“That’s a really, really exciting thing. All of us on the steering committee are helping to nurture that,” he said. “The early indicators are that’s definitely happening.”

The steering committee is already discussing next year’s event and plan to announce dates for #MSCW2015 by August 1.

As for those relationships formed with people like Lee Watson from Startup Arkansas, Tim O’Shea from Engage Colorado, John Harthorne from MassChallenge, Emily Madero from New Orleans’ Idea Village, and Greg Tehven from Fargo, North Dakota… those relationships have planted the seeds of future collaboration.

“When we invite people in to be part of the greatness of Maine and the greatness of our innovation and entrepreneurial community, we get good results,” Knox said. “And that’s what we’re seeing.”

O’Shea, who traveled from Boulder, Colorado, to attend MSCW, enjoyed his time in Portland. He hopes to keep in touch with those he met here, but recognizes that a deeper connection is what’s necessary, and requires more work.

“Maintaining these connections is more than just an email or two, a LinkedIn connection and a Twitter follow,” O’Shea wrote in an email. “It is staying present in each others communities.”

It’s about sharing experiences, good and bad; commiserating during the rough times and celebrating together during the good times.

“When I say, ‘Come to Boulder’ it isn’t to indoctrinate Mainers into ‘How they should do it,’ but to share what we love about our community,” he wrote. “That enthusiasm is infectious.  The relationships we build across town, the country or the world sustain us around not only the good and exciting stuff, but through the challenges and uncertainty that goes hand in hand with creativity, innovation and dreaming big.”

O’Shea is “eager to return, to learn and to share.”

Emily Madero, who grew up in Portland before landing in New Orleans where she now runs a business incubator, obliged me with her reflections on the week and on how communities sustain momentum. (Little known small-world fact: Emily and I worked at Gritty McDuff’s together in the early 2000s.)

“I left Maine super energized by the conversations and connections I made and excited about the startup community in Portland,” Madero wrote in an email. “I’m grateful to be a part of it!”

Madero, who has helped organize several successful New Orleans Entrepreneur Weeks, shared her thoughts on how startup communities can build and sustain momentum. Rather than try to paraphrase them, I think they’re valuable enough to post in their entirety (and to wrap up this post):

• Remember that entrepreneurship is the vehicle not the purpose. To spark and sustain a movement you have to galvanize your community around a bigger cause that is locally important. Entrepreneurship can (and should) be a powerful agent of positive change and belief and this notion is what will drive and sustain momentum in Maine.
• Leverage MSCW as THE moment when all stakeholders in the startup community come together. The critical mass/density of people and activity focused on entrepreneurship will amplify the voice of the startup community and elevate its importance in Maine and beyond. The focus should be on deep local engagement.
• Focus on building a diverse network and create engagement opportunities throughout the year.
• Be patient, it takes generations to grow a vibrant ecosystem . . .