The Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development (MCED) seeks an Executive Director to set an inspiring and sustainable course for the organization’s future as it grows in reach, impact, and significance for the State of Maine. Established in 2000, MCED helps build successful businesses by providing critical intellectual and networking resources to entrepreneurs and their teams. Over its 15 plus years, the organization has accelerated the growth of hundreds of ventures, established the largest community of mentors in Maine, and offers the very best training, advice, and connections to entrepreneurs. MCED’s mission is to build and lead a community of growth-oriented entrepreneurs in Maine, by supplying them with the training, connections, coaching and mentors they need to commercialize and grow their ideas, products and services so that their companies will drive the growth of Maine’s economy.
MCED is best known for its Top Gun program, which is designed to accelerate entrepreneurial development through training modules focused on critical venture creation and management skills, formation of mentor teams, and the development of critical community connections. In recent years, MCED added Top Gun Prep, a program designed to help entrepreneurs without any business experience become more knowledgeable in business skills in preparation for Top Gun classes. The annual highlight event for MCED is the Top Gun Showcase where program participants pitch their enterprise idea to panels of industry experts and leaders.
MCED also sponsors frequent Lunch & Learn events that offer area businesses a chance to explore a topic with an expert in the field. It also provides Table Talk Workshops, limited to 12 participants, that allow for more intimate discussion and discovery into a subject with the workshop presenter. MCED created the Maine Mentor Network to link aspiring and practicing entrepreneurs with successful business leaders to provide guidance in the crucial early stages of business development. These mentors bring deep industry knowledge and real world experience.
MCED accomplishes its statewide impact through important partnerships:
• The organization is part of a network of Maine’s three technology centers established by the Legislature—Target Technology Center, the Maine Aquaculture Center, and MCED—that leverages the collaboration of these organizations and appropriated funds to help support their missions;
• As an outgrowth of the 2012 Blackstone Accelerates Growth grant from the Blackstone Charitable Foundation, MCED partnered with the Maine Technology Institute, and the University of Maine, to create Maine Accelerates Growth, an initiative to create an intentional community of innovators and entrepreneurs that works with the Maine Community Foundation to solicit funds to support this effort.
• In 2016, the Economic Development Administration awarded MCED a grant of $390,000 to expand its Top Gun program into underserved areas.
While MCED is regarded as the state’s most significant asset in the development of start-ups, and has achieved national exposure and acclaim for its work, the Board is not content to just maintain and improve its current program offerings, but is extremely focused on expanding its portfolio of innovation. The next Executive Director will continue to refine the quality of MCED’s current programs, elevate the priority work in the creation of effective entrepreneurial programs for rural participants, and using the high caliber skills and connections of its staff and Board members, develop effective strategies to build resources to help more mature businesses accelerate their growth. The Executive Director will strategically work to position MCED as the go-to organization for Maine’s entrepreneurial efforts, both for early stage ventures, as well as established companies desiring to engage the principles and practices of innovation as part of their growth. The Executive Director will continue to lead the financial strategy of the institution, working with the Board and the Finance Committee to develop a long-term sustainable financial future for MCED.
BACKGROUND AND HISTORY
Founded in 1992 as the Maine Center for Enterprise Development, the 501(c)(3) entity operated as the Center for Environmental Enterprise (CEE). In 1999, the Department of Commerce awarded CEE a $200,000 grant, one of only 18 awarded in the nation for innovative technology development programs. In 2000, the Maine Legislature created a network of seven technology incubators statewide, modeled upon CEE. CEE received $750,000 in state and federal funds to renovate and update its headquarters.
In 2009, MCED started a transition away from a traditional incubator to a virtual incubator with the introduction of the Top Gun Program. Top Gun has been offered annually since 2009. With assistance from Blackstone Accelerates Growth and the Maine Technology Institute, the program expanded to 3 locations across the state in Portland, Bangor and Rockland.
With the help of a cluster initiative grant in 2012, MCED, developed close partnerships with the University of Maine through the Foster Center for Student Entrepreneurship, the Target Technology Center, and the Maine Aquaculture Innovation Center, the remaining technology incubators to target and support innovative, scalable entrepreneurship in Maine.
GOVERNANCE AND FINANCE
The Board of Directors is comprised of thirteen highly-regarded members of Maine’s business and entrepreneurial community who work closely with the Executive Director and MCED staff to determine the strategic direction of the organization, ensure the overall financial well-being of MCED, and serve as ambassadors to the broader business community. MCED has a staff of four who report to the Executive Director.
MCED has an annual operating budget of approximately $620,000. While some of its income is derived from program fees and the Department of Economic and Community Development, the majority of its operating funding comes from sponsorships, donations, and grants.
OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES FOR THE NEXT EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Prioritize and articulate the short- and long-term goals for MCED, and, in collaboration with the Board of Directors, develop a strategic agenda of key issues impacting the state’s entrepreneurial and business communities.
The Executive Director will work with internal and external stakeholders to articulate and prioritize where the MCED is today, and what its aspirations are for the future. With the Top Gun program well established, the Director must look for ways to improve its quality and reach, particularly in support of the EDA program grant. To make a lasting impact, the Director must continue to look beyond its existing programming and develop growth solutions for companies ranging in size from early-stage ventures to larger, more mature enterprises. The dual challenge of helping MCED scale its offerings, and creating resources and programs that teach enterprises how to scale and become more sustainable will be at the core of the new Director’s portfolio.
Engage MCED’s broad constituents.
The Executive Director will lead and nurture strategic and collaborative partnerships with the full spectrum of stakeholders in the region including academic partners, businesses, especially those who do not describe themselves as “entrepreneurial,” government entities, and the media to leverage resources, connect donors to significant initiatives, raise awareness about MCED’s capabilities, and build relationships that matter. The Director will be the public ambassador for the MCED’s value proposition, and must be able to excite the public, donors, and other stakeholders about the mission and work of MCED.
Strengthen MCED’s Financial Model.
The Executive Director is responsible for sustaining and strengthening MCED’s financial performance. S/he must continue to grow the organization’s assets by generating new funds, promoting partnerships, and engaging the Board in ambassadorial activities. The Executive Director must increase the level of financial contributions, sponsorships, and grant funds that support its programs.
Enhance internal operations.
The Executive Director will have the opportunity to streamline and optimize organizational processes and improve the MCED’s capacity to benchmark and evaluate results of its programs and activities. The Director will also work to clarify staff roles and responsibilities, and foster a culture of prioritization among a hard-working staff that often functions at maximum capacity.
While no one candidate will have all of these qualities, the ideal candidate will bring several of the following professional and personal characteristics to the position that demonstrate at least ten years of experience:
• A record of providing inspirational, energetic, and visionary leadership.
• Experience as an effective manager, and the know-how to manage institutional change, growth, and impact.
• An appreciation or understanding of Maine and its business and innovation community, or experience with a place-based organization, and the ability to quickly learn a new geography and community.
• A public presence and outstanding presentation and communication skills, and the expertise and inclination to be an effective, outgoing spokesperson for MCED.
• An appreciation for the current culture and an ability to enhance and build upon what’s already in place.
• The ability to generate new ideas and approaches, handle shifting priorities, and deal with rapid change.
• Passion for scalable startups and growth companies.
• A deep appreciation for the tasks involved with operating and growing a business.
• Experience with fundraising for non-profits, venture capital initiation and execution, and the mechanics of creating capital structures in businesses.
• Exceptionally strong interpersonal skills to build consensus and support, negotiate and resolve conflict, and inspire and guide individuals and groups.
• Experience using metrics and benchmarks to track progress and impact, and a track record of being a data-driven decision maker.
• Creative and entrepreneurial, yet pragmatic, leadership skills, and the ability to think strategically about the short- and long-term future while remaining goal and objective oriented.
• Deep listening skills and a sense of humor, enthusiasm, and a down to earth demeanor.
• Bachelor’s Degree required, Master’s degree preferred
To apply, please send a letter describing how you fit these requirements and examples of how you have worked with scalable startups and growth companies, along with your resume, to:
MCED Board of Directors, MCEDBoardofDirectors@gmail.com.