True to the spirit of an event dedicated to innovation, the second iteration of Maine Startup and Create Week shook things up a little from last year’s event.

There were more sessions, more volunteers, more partner organizations, and more chances for accidental meetings in the halls or during the so-called “collision lunches.” And the event’s organizers planned a keynote address for each day this year.

Monday evening featured Donato Tramuto, CEO of Physicians Interactive and founder of the nonprofit Healthy eVillages, who offered the audience his story of perseverance and discussed the importance of social entrepreneurship. He told the crowd that, as an entrepreneur, having a “what” is not enough; you need a “why.”

“Nobody cares what you do until they know why you do it,” he said.

Tuesday afternoon’s keynote speaker was Jules Pieri, founder and CEO of The Grommet, a product development and launch platform for inventors and entrepreneurs. She spoke of the challenges she faced in starting her business, and the endurance, both mental and physical, it takes to be an entrepreneur.

“(Pieri’s) realness and willingness to talk about the struggles to get to success was incredibly inspiring,” said Sarah Hines, one of the organizers of the weeklong conference and a co-founder of Shines & Jecker Laboratories, a digital strategy and design shop in Portland.

Given Pieri’s role in helping entrepreneurs bring their products to the marketplace, she also offered insight on the “entrepreneurial pipeline” and where it needs to be strengthened, whether it be in market research or supply chain management, Hines said.

“It’s wicked cool that she, and her team, are now assisting so many new, innovative products to success, which gives her this extremely well-rounded, 30,000-foot viewpoint on what qualities and systems make entrepreneurs successful,” Hines said.


Double Blue Sports Analytics, the company founded by a former University of Maine hockey coach to develop a video analytics application for tracking goalie performance, is about to launch a new product.

Dan Kerluke, Double Blue’s founder, was at the Maine Technology Institute’s TechWalk event Monday afternoon showing off his company’s offerings. While the company’s video analytics software is going strong – the NHL Network used it in its coverage of the Stanley Cup finals for the second year in a row – the new product began as a way to record, collect and share video of an entire hockey team. The target audience was originally hockey coaches and instructors at hockey training camps, who could collect player-specific video via Double Blue’s iPad application and then share it with the players and their parents.

Kerluke told me this new product, called CampCast, has taken on a life of its own – partly because its utility, it turns out, goes far beyond hockey. During beta testing, Double Blue had interest in CampCast from all kinds of other sports teams, as well as dance studios, karate dojos, even day care centers.

Kerluke joked that the company could probably experience explosive growth if it shifted its focus to the day cares, where the owners could collect video of individual children and share it with parents.

“But we’re only attacking sports right now because we only have so much energy,” he said.

The interest in the product has been eye-opening.

“Our projection is that this will be our biggest product,” Kerluke said.


The startup action doesn’t end this weekend. Next week, roughly 30 startup community organizers from 27 states are coming to Portland to network and learn about Maine’s innovation ecosystem, said Jess Knox, a founder of Maine Startup and Create Week.

The organizers, some of whom are flying in to participate in the final days of Maine Startup and Create Week, will meet at the Press Hotel for two days. On Monday, they’ll update each other on progress in each of their communities and have a larger organizational discussion about the potential relaunch of Startup America, an initiative that would act as a loose network for startup communities around the country. On Tuesday, it’s all about the Maine ecosystem, Knox said. The group will visit some local companies and meet with members of Maine’s startup and innovation community.

“I think it’s another great example of our ecosystem getting noticed by people across the country,” Knox said. “The fact that people are coming here to be a part of both Maine Startup and Create Week and to really learn about what’s happening here is a testament to all the work we’ve been doing and the all the great companies we have.”

In case you missed them, there have been several recent examples of Maine companies and entrepreneurs getting recognition on a national stage. In late May, a Google executive mentioned Chimani, a Portland-based mobile app developer, during the tech giant’s annual developers conference in San Francisco. A week later, Apple cited research from Portland’s own Stephen O’Grady, founder of the developer-focused analyst firm RedMonk, at its own vaunted Worldwide Developers Conference.

Also, startups based in New York City and San Francisco – Livable Local and Figly, respectively – recently opened development offices in Portland to take advantage of the burgeoning tech and innovation community.

The community that has formed in Maine around startups and entrepreneurship is getting noticed, and events like Maine Startup and Create Week and the energy they generate are evidence that there’s plenty more to come.


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