We have a saying at Venture Hall: “Innovation doesn’t happen by accident.”
It’s a mantra we live by because it describes the true nature of startups: they’re hard work.
For every new insight, turning that insight into a product, and turning that product into a viable company is an unlikely journey. It’s not enough to cheer on founders, to encourage their bold ideas, and to wish them well. They require much more than that. Startups need certain conditions to thrive; they need an ecosystem. And entrepreneurial ecosystems don’t happen by accident, either.
Venture Hall is a proud partner of Maine Accelerates Growth (MxG), because MxG is a central catalyst in building Maine’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. As a part of MxG, 20 organizational partners across the state work together to achieve a vision of accelerating the growth of companies, communities and talent by funding, creating and leveraging high-impact entrepreneurship and innovation programs and events through a collaborative and complementary network of organizations and individuals propelling prosperity across Maine.
What does all that mean? It means startups have a greater chance at success.
Here’s John Rooks, co-founder of Rapport – a Portland-based software company on a mission to democratize sustainability, describing exactly how the interconnected organizations that are a part of, or are supported by MxG, have helped Rapport get where they are today.
Picture a pond. It’s a community of interconnected systems containing flora, fauna and frogs. The Maine Startup Ecosystem is that pond. Its institutions are connected underwater, but on the surface they represent as individual lily pads.
Rapport is a frog.
Here is our 2015 journey across the pond, moving from lily pad to lily pad, leveraging the institutions and their stabilizing support system.
Rapport is invited to pitch at House of Genius, a kind of roaming think-tank helping entrepreneurs solve business problems. We learn a lot.
Rapport becomes a member of TopGun 2015 – TopGun is run by Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development.
Rapport wins the 2015 TopGun Showcase (supported generously by Blackstone Accelerates Growth).
The Environment and Energy Technology Council of Maine advocates for Rapport to participate in the CleanTech Open – an intentional accelerator looking for the most promising clean-tech companies.
Rapport becomes a regional finalist in the CleanTech Open Northeast and travels to San Francisco to participate in the final pitch competition.
Blackstone Accelerates Growth supports another ecosystem event – the 2015 Maine Startup and Create Week, which includes members of the Startup Champions Network and the Case Foundation.
Blackstone Accelerates Growth, now Maine Accelerates Growth, hosts Steve Case and the Rise of the Rest Tour. Rise of the Rest travels to cities “underserved and overlooked ” by venture capital holding pitch competitions, and making $100K investments in winning companies.
Rapport pitches at Port City Music Hall to Steve Case and a panel judges during Rise of the Rest. Rapport wins.
The Case investment brings local investors off the sideline to also make an investment in Rapport.
Rapport matches these investments with a Maine Technology Institute Development Loan effectively doubling our runway.
MxG is the water, supporting the structures, connecting the ecosystem-services, holding it together. Rapport would not be where it is today without this pond and all the other amazing startup critters surrounding us.
Help more startups achieve the kind of success Rapport has. Donate to MxG today. It’s easy and takes about two minutes.
Simply visit the Maine Community Foundation page using the link above, choose “donation for the fund’s distribution,” then select the Maine Accelerates Growth Fund to donate online. Of course you can also send a check if you prefer. Instructions are on the page.
MxG is helping to ensure more organizations, like Venture Hall, are able to contribute to the valuable services supporting the “amazing startup critters” in our community.