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July 23, 2018
Biz Money

Maine's 200-plus startups get a leg up with interactive map

Big Room Studios, the Portland software development firm, has crafted a detailed, interactive map of Maine's 200-plus startups.

The map, which went live in mid-July, took six months to put together and was a "labor of love," said R&D team leader Emily Straubel.

Along the way, she was surprised to learn of unexpected industry clusters that have sprouted up organically, and sees "incredible opportunity" for growth when business clusters work together to promote common interests.

The map visualizes each business by industry, such as aquaculture, electronic commerce, food and beverage, financial technology and various others.

It also reflects companies' size according to the current growth stage, from launch to maturity or exit.

"I hope visualizing these clusters on the map inspires leaders in those communities to collaborate and reach out to newer startups and help them grow," Straubel told Mainebiz. "That was the primary reason we chose to include some of the larger corporations like WEX, IDEXX and CashStar alongside the startups."

"We want them to see how integral they are to the startup ecosystem even long after they've matured as companies," she added.

Big Room Studios, founded 15 years ago and based at Thompson's Point, works mainly with large enterprises but actively promotes high-growth startups in Maine.

It does that by hosting workshops and sponsoring events that support the startup community, and by working closely with organizations such as SCORE and Maine Technology Institute to provide consulting services to non-technical startup founders building tech products.

The team finished the web application in mid-June and spent a few weeks getting feedback from businesses and organizations before the official launch.

"This is an open tool for the community so anyone can recommend a startup or change the information that is featured to be more accurate," Straubel said.

Tim Mateosian, co-founder of Big Room Studios, noted in a news release that the map isn't just a resource for startup founders, but for anyone interested in growing Maine's economy.

"This map should help you do that," he said.

WalletHub ranks Maine at No. 31 for startups

In a WalletHub assessment of the best and worst states in which to start a business, Maine came in at No. 31, sandwiched between Tennessee (No. 30) and New York (No. 32).

The study looked at all 50 states across 25 key indicators of startup success — including business environment, access to resources and business costs — to determine the most fertile grounds in which to launch and grow an enterprise.

Factors used to gauge the business environment include average work-week length, startups per capita and five-year business survival rates.

According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data cited by WalletHub, about a fifth of all startups typically don't survive past year one of operation, and nearly half never make it to their fifth anniversary.

Maine's No. 31 ranking was based in part on its No. 22 position for business costs, No. 40 in access to resources and No. 30 for business environment.

Texas leads the pack at No. 1 overall, while Hawaii is last overall and in access to resources.

Outdoor startup gets a break in partnership with L.L.Bean

With only eight full-time employees and yearly sales "in the low seven figures," Flowfold COO James Morin says the Scarborough-based manufacturer of lightweight minimalist outdoor gear hasn't quite cut loose from the status of being a startup company. That may be about to change, though, thanks to a unique collaboration with L.L.Bean that launched on June 19 a new collection of backpacks, totes and gear bags under the Freeport retailer's "Be an Outsider" brand. L.L.Bean gives a significant nod to its junior partner by calling that new line the "Flowfold Collection."

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