It started with a question that started like this: “What if we built a…” along with some head nods. Next, a team was assembled, and it tucked itself away in a warm, humid UMaine classroom for the summer. The team strategized, talked to lots of people, and wrote up plans. Momentum grew, and excitement spread. More players got on board. Funding was approved. And just like that, the idea became real, and the Scratchpad Accelerator was born.
The Scratchpad Accelerator is a pilot program of the University of Maine in collaboration with the Maine Technology Institute. It’s a program that will guide four startup companies for three months through the early stages of business development to help improve their chances of success. The accelerator will help the entrepreneurs uncover answers to critical questions about their businesses relying on weekly programming, interactions with mentors and industry experts, grants of up to $25,000 grant from the Maine Technology Institute, and more.
Once all our plans were in place–the i’s dotted and the t’s crossed–we took our megaphones across the state of Maine and started shouting. We wanted all the entrepreneurs in the startup communities to know about this amazing opportunity. Thankfully, our entrepreneurial partners were quick to help: the Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development, the Blackstone Accelerates Growth innovation community hubs (soon to be known as Maine Accelerates Growth hubs), the Maine Technology Institute, and others, all helped us get the word out. With just a few weeks available between our announcement and the application deadline, we got an amazing response.
Twenty companies from across the state saw the value of the program and completed applications. Eight companies were invited to interview. The interviews were conducted by a selection committee that included Scratchpad Accelerator staff, MTI staff, and industry mentors appropriate to each applicant’s business. After significant deliberation, well-mannered debate, and tough decision-making, the selection committee recommended four companies to the accelerator. Finally, the REAL fun could begin!
It is with much enthusiasm and internal cheering that we can finally announce the selected companies: CourseStorm of Orono; Double Blue Sports Analytics of Orono and Brunswick; L&K Manufacturing of Bangor, and Tip Whip, LLC of Old Town. All companies will work at Scratchpad’s location at the University of Maine System Office in downtown Bangor between now and December 11th, the accelerator’s last day.
What’s in store for these entrepreneurs? Learning. Networking. Late nights. Aha moments. Pivots. Caffeine. Snacks.Team-building. Answers. Plus, an intensive and jam-packed three months of programming and more than 15 events, from weekly founders dinners to a final Demo Day. At Demo Day, they’ll pitch to an audience of potential investors, supporters, partners, and community members. The accelerator is sure to be an incredible amount of work but with incredible rewards.
We have more stories, and back stories, to share: too many to share in a single blog post. The Scratchpad Accelerator is about making a real different to real people who are trying to make real change in the world. How will it all unfold? Will there be home runs? Strikeouts? Stay tuned to this blog for ongoing news, announcements, and a peek inside the walls of the accelerator in the months ahead.