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February 19, 2016

Top Gun classes named for Portland, Bangor and Rockland

FILE PHOTO / Tim Greenway Don Gooding, executive director of the Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development.

The Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development and the University of Maine have announced the members of the Top Gun Maine 2016 class.

This year marks the second year that sessions will convene in Portland, Bangor and Rockland, and the seventh class since the program started in 2009.

Top Gun is an annual program for competitively selected entrepreneurs that combines mentoring with high-impact weekly gatherings held in in the three cities. Beginning with a dozen entrepreneurs in Portland in 2009, Top Gun has now helped 110 entrepreneurs across the state accelerate their businesses.

Entrepreneurs selected for each cohort completed a rigorous application process that included submitting a pitch deck, presenting a pitch to a panel, interviews and participating in an optional PreFlight workshop series.

“This year’s Top Gun class truly represents the uniqueness and diversity of Maine’s startup community,” Don Gooding, executive director for MCED, said in a statement. “Every year we draw an amazing group of companies that continually raise the bar in Maine.”

The following entrepreneurs and companies have been selected to participate in each location:

  • Portland class: Ben Davis, True Course Yachting; Mike Mwenedata, Rwanda Bean Co.; Kurt Shisler, FoodHEALTH; Joe Walsh, Green Clean Maine; Amanda O’Brien, Pete Dubuc, Eighteen Twenty; Alexandra Johnson, Dan Johnson, RoboJoe; Troy Locke, Rick Hollen, Spring Point Solutions; The Clothesline Club; Ryan Beaumont, Mobility Technologies; Aron Semle, Semle Inc.; David Higham, Red Door Network; Mark Hews, Total Crowd Solutions.
  • Bangor class: Ailish Keating, Botanical Brews & Happy Kids; Kasey Smith, Eternav; Elena Metzger, Print Bangor; Kelly McClymer, Kelly McClymer Books; Feras Elyounis, Half Auto; Simin Khosravani, Revolution Research Inc.; John Rasanen, Tips; Niles Parker, Science Around ME; Dan Steinke, Ted Morgan, Dave Pier, Dental Health Advantage Plan; Mandy Fountaine, Bar Harbor Catering Co.
  • Rockland class: Sarah Baldwin, Bella Luna Toys; Juliana Hoffman, Tic Tac Taco; Claire Weinberg, Dulse & Rugosa; Jacinda Martinez, Grounded Local; Chuck Benton, TeamAR; Eric Jacobssen, Maine Classic Boats; Rhonda Nordstrom, Rheal Skin Care; Judy Bernier, Podzooks.

Top Gun is supported by Camden National Bank, Bangor Target Area Development Corporation and the Maine Technology Institute. Other corporate sponsors, local businesses, partner organizations, program advisors and mentors also contribute to the success of the program. Planning for the 2016 Top Gun Program was made possible by the U.S. Small Business Administration through its Growth Accelerator Fund Competition awarded to MCED in August 2015.

MCED was also awarded an i6 Challenge Award through the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s 2015 Regional Innovation Strategies Program, which is managed by EDA’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The EDA award will continue to expand the Top Gun Rural Accelerator Network, which includes programs both before and after Top Gun. Next year, MCED plans to expand Top Gun to Lewiston-Auburn.

Read more

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