Startup Maine considers other options after canceling June event
Written by Renee Cordes, Mainebiz:
After canceling this year’s Startup Maine conference in Portland, organizers are looking at other ways to provide entrepreneurs with helpful information, from podcasts to webinars.
The 2020 annual event had been scheduled to take place this June at the University of Southern Maine’s Abromson Community Education Center.
More than 500 people had been expected to attend.
Amid growing concern about the coronavirus outbreak, Startup Maine’s volunteers formed a COVID-19 preparedness committee nearly a month ago to keep tabs on the situation.
Last week, amid lingering uncertainty over when gatherings will again be permitted and speakers from out of town unable to commit, organizers decided to pull the plug and focus their energies elsewhere.
“This pause is giving us time to focus and strategize,” Katie Shorey, president of Startup Maine and director of engagement at Live + Work in Maine, told Mainebiz in a phone interview.
“We wanted to be more of a year-round organization, so now it’s our turn to pivot.”
It won’t be starting from scratch, after receiving more than 70 workshop applications for this year’s event and 20 suggestions by email, according to Shorey.
She said they may be able to put the content to other uses, for example by creating webinars or pre-taped workshops that could be released for online viewing.
Other ideas being considered include an entrepreneur spotlight series or an audio or video podcast, potentially with a strategic partner.
But Shorey underscores they wouldn’t seek to compete with existing podcasts like Marty Grohman’s “The Grow Maine Show” or the “Fast Forward Maine Podcast,” by Rich Brooks and Yury Nabokov.
Speaker series and other ideas
Startup Maine, a nonprofit powered by about 20 volunteers, is also looking at resuming live programming later this year, pending allowance of in-person gatherings, with a series in fall or winter.
Possible topics include information technology and cybersecurity; sessions on making a business pitch to private equity investors; and a crash course on distributed or remote work.
The group is also taking suggestions for webinars, interviews, podcasts or virtual events though an online application process.
Looking ahead to 2021, Startup Maine plans to resume the annual conference. Although a date has not yet been set, Shorey said that June has worked well.
As the group plans its next move, she has this message to the business community: “Startup Maine will continue its mission of providing entrepreneurs, small businesses and organizational partners with opportunities for learning, networking and celebrating victories across the ecosystem.”