The new year is traditionally a time to “reset” and develop new aspirations for the year to come. For us at Venture Hall, we see it as a continual evolution– one that started before we launched just 15 months ago, and has been accelerating ever since. The more work we do, the more evidence we gain to revise, test, learn and grow.
We are so excited for the programs and ideas we’re working on, the partners we’re working with, and the companies and individuals we are working for. It’s going to be a big year.
Up until now, we’ve described our work as focused on high-growth or high-impact companies, people and innovations. Through our partnership with CloudPort, our participation in Maine Accelerates Growth and our partnerships with Unum, MaineHealth and others, we’re proud of the work we’ve done, the people we’ve helped bring into the ecosystem, and most importantly, the innovative companies we’ve been able to support.
We’ve made some progress, but it’s not enough. We’ve only scratched the surface of what’s possible for our work, and for what we intend our impact to be. You will see something a bit different from us over the next few months.
Our intention, our effort, and our passion, are focused on being fundamentally transformative. This is, and always has been, the foundational value of Venture Hall.
Publicly stating such an audacious expectation for ourselves is risky, uncomfortable, and also exhilarating. But we don’t do this work to play around the edges. We do it because we see so much potential in Maine and the region, yet also a great deal of hesitation, caution, and working inside the bounds of old models.
So what does “fundamentally transformative” really mean?
It’s about reinventing what’s possible. It’s about redefining challenges and creating brand new solutions. It’s about acquiring a learning mindset and questioning everything, from our past actions, to our most basic assumptions as people. It’s about shining a light on our shortcomings and our blind spots. It’s about taking risks and learning from failure. It’s about testing, revising and testing again. It’s acknowledging that small bets are important, but they are insufficient for the impact we strive to make. It’s recognizing that anyone —anyone— has the capacity to dramatically change their own lives, and the lives of many others around them. It’s about humbling ourselves to the process. It’s about saying, “I don’t know.”
To be fundamentally transformative is not a revelation. It’s a practice.
You will see it as we double-down and transform our summer accelerator program. With a second cohort of companies and more partners, the program will continue to increase in rigor, reach, and impact both for the participating companies and members of the community they touch.
You will see it in how we support the creation and growth of new companies and innovations in our incubation program. With it’s on-going relentless pursuit of creating world-class customer discovery and customer acquisition processes, our program will continue to enable aspirations of greatness in our startup clients and corporate innovation partners.
Of course, ideas and things don’t transform anything. People do. Our efforts are all centered around the work of activating, building, retaining and attracting fundamentally transformative talent. We will do that through our code school program, our training of intrapreneurs inside companies, running Future Skills bootcamps for colleges, and in the hours we spend every week meeting with people who want to turn big ideas into world-class companies here in Maine, and need help learning how.
And finally, you will see us put our shoulders behind efforts that match these values in our community. You will see it in our support and collaborations with programs that tackle the hardest questions, that cultivate a culture of learning, that facilitate uncomfortableness, and welcome world-class aspirations in a deeply inclusive community of ideas, people and perspectives.
Venture Hall was not created to pursue institution building. Nor are we here to serve only startups, or technology, or a single industry. Our job is to help transform Maine into a hyper-adaptable community that thrives long into the future. Startups are just one example of that work. If we help trigger the creation of 10 accelerators in Maine, or some incredible program like TechStars moves in as competition, that’s mission accomplished. If we are doing the same work, in the same way three, four or five years from now, we are failing.
We want to see so many great innovations and innovative companies that Maine’s reputation is not just as hard-workers, but as hyper-adaptable workers, founders, and companies. We don’t just want to be seen as Vacationland – we believe very deeply that we can be seen as Innovation Land. All over Maine.
So in 2018, it’s not just about being a “new” year for us – it’s about the commitment and practice of being fundamentally transformative.
Let us know if you want to join the effort.