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2018 Case Studies

In years past we have showcased panels focused on specific industries and used them to get a wide variety of input on specific challenges and opportunities within an industry. This year, we are changing it up. While we have doubled down on workshops, this year we are replacing panels with Case Studies.

So what is a case study? In the simplest terms, picture an HBS case study. Using either SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis or the law school methodology of IRAC (Issue, Rule, Application, and Conclusion), we take a deep dive with a founder and their company to answer a specific question or explore a topic that is relevant and applicable to all those working hard to build their company.

Below are the current case studies we are assembling:


How to setup the company to run/survive without you as the sole decision maker:

As a company grows, the tasks a founder is responsible for begin to require more time. Eventually a breaking point is reached when an overburdened schedule leads to sub-optimal prioritization and lack of strategic vision as the day-to-day begins to monopolize a founder’s time. How can a founder know when they’re situation is beyond just working hard and it’s the right time to hire or delegate? How can they begin to cede decision-making authority to other contributors to free up time to build the company?


Industry clusters within Maine:

A case study that shows the balance between competition and a growing industry. How does Maine’s food and beverage industry continue to grow and not erode itself? How does this contribute to Maine’s hospitality and tourism industry. People don’t come to eat at one restaurant or have a beer at one brewery. People come so that they can have a total experience and visit many. What economies of scale happen when you have an industry cluster such as brewing? Does innovation accelerate because of the knowledge sharing? What is the culture of an industry cluster, and how does that foster continued growth, openness to new entrants, and sustained profits?


How can you prepare to weather a storm?

When the worst happened, how did the company react, and survive? A case study focused on crisis management.


Corporate Culture:

How do you install a winning culture from the start? How do you recognize a flawed culture and change it? How does culture affect company growth, happiness, and talent attraction? It’s not just perks, food, or dog friendly offices. What is at the heart of a good company culture?


Building a New Company in a New Country:

A new report from the Partnership for a New American Economy found more than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children.  For those from (far) away, several social, economic, legal, and funding challenges can limit immigrants from starting or growing a business in Maine. How often are companies started out of necessity compared to desire? Is Maine’s community open and supportive of immigrant founders and is there equal access to resources? This case study details their stories and experiences to provide lessons on how to tackle the specific issues and obstacles faced by immigrants when starting a company.


Commercializing Creativity: Growing a Business Using Your Artistic Skills

Too often, artists tend to default to “stay solo/small” to preserve their art. While that’s fine, it doesn’t work if you want to grow your artistic calling to a larger entity for greater impact. So how can your artistic skills be commercialized into a business that can scale?


Second Act and Older Entrepreneurs:

Maine has one of the oldest populations in the nation. New research has shown that older founders of new businesses tend to have a higher success rate than those founded by younger entrepreneurs.

What are the stories of successful older entrepreneurs in Maine? We will examine the experience of three such entrepreneurs: an, early revenue generator just starting out, an early stage founder in a growth mode, and a mature business of an older entrepreneur.



There are great misconceptions about failure in society, specifically around entrepreneurship:

  1. It does not happen – not once I heard from the entrepreneur: Why is it hard ONLY to me? The truth is, it’s hard for everyone.
  2. Failure does not mean the end of life. Failures are needed for us as humans to learn important lessons, and can be a better teacher than success.


Building a company in rural America:

What are the differences between building a company in an urban vs rural area? What does it look like to build a national company with an HQ in rural America? What resources are available, or not available? How is the search for talent different? For growing your market share and finding customers outside of the state? Digital vs. physical products. A case study around company that was successfully build and is still operated in a rural area of Maine. The case study highlights how the company was started, and the unique challenges and solutions that were implemented to enable company success.


Female Founders:

How is the experience of fundraising, hiring, and building a company different as a female founder? Sexual harassment, glass ceilings and lingering stereotypes – what can we learn from female founders who have pushed forward, raised capital, and paved their way to building a company that dominates the market?