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July 13, 2023

John Pavan remembered as a mentor for Maine startups

John Pavan, founder of Altezza Advisors in Brunswick and a board member at Maine Technology Institute, died suddenly on July 3. He was 63.

Pavan was an engineer, craftsman, innovator, investor, and well-known mentor and coach to Maine’s entrepreneurial and startup communities. 

“I was always so impressed with John’s ability to listen and relate and support the entrepreneurs in our state,” said Matt Hoffner, an entrepreneur in residence at Maine Technology Institute. “These start-up founders were always so appreciative of his knowledge and patience and encouragement. Starting a new business can be a scary undertaking, yet an hour with John was such a gift to these young businesspeople. As a peer, he was always willing to jump in and assist with a transaction and over the last few years, I learned so much from him. The startup ecosystem in Maine, and his colleagues, will miss him greatly.”

Georgia Gibbons
John Pavan

Most of Pavan's career was in commercial real estate. He worked for various companies and successfully launched some of his own.

Friends recall that he was passionate about working with young entrepreneurs and fostering innovation, especially in environmental arenas including aquaculture. He served as an early-stage investor and advisor to startups.

Through his work with MTI, SCORE and Maine Center for Entrepreneurs, he helped emerging companies with planning, scaling and other business matters. His help in the business community led him to be instrumental in the success of many Maine startups.

“John played an integral role in the growth and success of many dozens of startups across Maine,” said Brian Whitney, president of MTI. “His calm and thoughtful demeanor, and sage counsel, provided reassurance and comfort to the startup founders with which he worked. When he joined the MTI board of directors, I became a grateful recipient of that same valuable advice and mentorship. He will be greatly missed but his profound impact will reverberate for years to come.”

He was appointed by Gov. Janet Mills to the board of directors of MTI and the Maine Innovation Economy Advisory Board.

With Maine Center for Entrepreneurs, he served as a mentor in MCE’s Top Gun competition. He served as board chair for American Unagi and OpBox, and was on the advisory board for Wild Ocean Aquaculture.

“John was critical to helping me bring American Unagi from pilot scale to the commercial operation I envisioned,” said Sara Rademaker, founder and president of American Unagi. “I was fortunate to work with him over the last eight years and know he has been a key driver for others building businesses in the Maine economy.  He was a great example of a leader in not only demonstrating himself how to move through the business world and life’s challenges with integrity and grace, but he also helped others around him learn to navigate business with those same values. John was an exceptional person and his impact on business leaders and the Maine economy will continue to be felt.”

Life history

As a father and husband, Pavan was a fan of the outdoors camping, hiking, attending baseball games at Fenway Park, visiting family all over the country and cooking with his daughters Tracey and Kendall. 

Pavan, who grew up in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., spent most of his childhood exploring the woods with his siblings. He received a degree in engineering from Clarkson University. He spent nearly 30 years in the Boston area with his late wife Carol and their daughters before they moved to Brunswick in 2015. 

After his wife's passing in 2018, he carried out their vision of building a “vibrant life” in Maine. He spent his time enjoying family, community, the ocean, pickleball, art and music. He was also part of many community organizations including serving as a former treasurer and member of the board of directors of the Bath YMCA.

John is survived by his daughter Kendall St. Laurent, her husband Kevin and their daughter Gwen of Warwick, R.I.; his daughter Tracey Pavan, her husband Chris Lord and their son Gus of Rockland; his partner Gena Canning of Portland and her children, as well as many nieces and nephews. 

He was preceded in death by his parents, his wife and his two adored Springer spaniels, Tucker and Harry.

A Celebration of Life will be held on July 30th at 3 p.m. at Zach's Farm, 7 Colby Turner Lane in York.  

In lieu of flowers donations can be made in memory of John Pavan to any of the following: United Recovery Fund (501-c3 partner of MaineWorks), 494 Forest Ave. in Portland; Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Assoc., PO Box 170 in Unity, and Harpswell Heritage Land Trust, 153 Harpswell Neck Road in Harpswell.

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