WATERVILLE — Starting a business takes time, passion and a willingness to take a risk and jump in, according to local business owners who spoke during a weekend centered on startups and entrepreneurship.

The Central Maine Converge and Create Weekend was held Friday and Saturday at Thomas College, which partnered with local economic development organizations, institutions and businesses. Those who attended gained access to networking sessions, workshops and a keynote seminar.

On Saturday morning, local entrepreneurs talked about their experiences in starting businesses from scratch at a breakout session called “Launching Your Business,” moderated by Kimberly Lindlof, president and CEO of the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce, and attended by about 15 people.

Amber Lambke, CEO of Maine Grains in Skowhegan, spoke about how her greater vision has propelled the company.

Maine Grains, started in 2012, makes and sells organic flour, among other grain-based products, from Maine to New York City. Lambke knew from the beginning that it would take a community effort to make her business work.

She’s trying to revitalize a small, local grains market that largely has disappeared in the U.S.


During her research, Lambke found that while only 10 percent of flour used by artisan bakers is whole wheat, a consumer trend toward healthier products – whole wheat or organic – is rising across the nation and across demographics.

And 99.9 percent of flour in the country is not organic, she said, meaning there is a big market for her products.

“I just sort of happened on a realization that what’s happening here in Maine is actually pretty unique,” she said.

Once Lambke and co-founder Michael Scholz needed to start raising money to buy equipment, “it got scary,” she said.

Lambke sought out mentors from those in the community whom she looked up to.

They told her to raise twice as much as she needed and to be prepared to work all the time, a lesson she imparted to others Saturday.


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