Wednesday September 18, 2013 at 5:30 PM EDT
Wednesday November 13, 2013 at 7:30 PM EST

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Laurie Johnson 
Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development 

Top Gun Prep Fall 2013 

If you are a first-time entrepreneur with an innovative business idea, making progress can be slow and frustrating: who do you talk to? where do you begin trying to figure out if your idea is a good one? how do you learn all the new skills necessary to start and run a successful company? how do you get where you want to go fast? Introducing Top Gun Prep, the first program enabling any Maine entrepreneur to learn how to dramatically increase speed and decrease risk building their startup.
Here’s how it works:

Top Gun Prep teaches critical information from three sources: 1) the textbook of Silicon Valley’s top entrepreneurship educator Steve Blank, 2) the world class, Maine-grown techniques of Innovation Engineering®, and 3) carefully chosen selections from the very best free internet resources for entrepreneurs. You’ll learn best practices for going from idea to market, plus the basics of financials and

The materials are explained in eight interactive weekly webinars that are recorded for later viewing for participants who can’t make some or even most of the classes live. Online classes are led by Don Gooding, an entrepreneur and angel investor who has assisted more than 100 Maine entrepreneurs over the last seven years, teaches Innovation Engineering® at the University of Southern Maine, and spent 11 years with the lead venture capital firm invested in Facebook. Don runs the Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development and is Vice Chair of the Maine Angels.

The online classes are highly interactive, as the Adobe Connect platform used to deliver them allow in-class polling and live Q&A. Adobe Connect just requires a modern browser and can even work on most smartphones! In addition, all Top Gun Prep participants will join a special, closed online forum where their short written assignments will receive feedback from, and their questions will be answered by, members of the Maine Mentor Network and up to 100 fellow entrepreneurs. Top Gun Prep will conclude with a pitch session by up to 20 selected participants. Online interactions will be supplemented by several face-to-face networking events, including gathering ahead of the monthly PubHub at the Casco Bay Tech Hub in Portland where MCED is located.

The course is particularly well suited for entrepreneurs building scalable innovation-based companies, but 75% of the Top Gun Prep curriculum is also helpful to entrepreneurs building small or micro-enterprises. The content will combine important basics with advanced concepts. College students contemplating entrepreneurship will get a great start, while more experienced entrepreneurs will be connected with some of the leading edge thinking on how to build large, successful, groundbreaking companies.

We are confident this will make a huge difference for you. • Steve Blank’s methods are taught in Silicon Valley’s top universities, and have been adopted by the National Science Foundation to accelerate technology commercialization, form the basis for Startup Weekend and inspired Eric Ries’ Lean Startup. Here in Maine, GWI credits it with dramatically accelerating new product development, while Top Gun graduate RainStorm Consulting cut 10 months from their original product development plan by following Blank’s teachings. • Innovation Engineering® has been developed and refined over 25 years, and documents increasing innovation speed by up to 6X and decreasing risk by up to 80%. It has been adopted by the national Manufacturing Extension Partnership to accelerate innovation by American manufacturers. • The 30+ online videos, 120+ blog entries and 10+ slide show selections in Top Gun Prep are drawn from more than 40 sources and 10 “best of” lists. Hundreds of hours were spent compiling and annotating all of this vital information, so you don’t have to!

Top Gun Prep is only $300 for 8 weeks. It’s a great value when you consider the high cost and frustration of delaying the big returns from your big idea for months or years.

The highly selective Top Gun Maine program will accept about 20 companies, largely from the Top Gun Prep graduates, for intensive mentoring and coaching. Of the 18 companies in Top Gun Maine 2013, 13 were Top Gun Prep graduates.

Here’s what some of the 2012 Top Gun Prep participants had to say:

Alexander Sargent,
I just wanted to write and personally thank you for your level of professionalism
and attention to detail in your Top Gun prep course. I've just finished my first
few classes for my MBA through WPI's cohort program and I have to say, you are
both operating out of the same playbook! I'm really impressed so far. WPI's biz
school faculty (and staff, actually) are all Babson ex-pats so the program has some
similarities to what you may be familiar too. But I kept thinking, when I was down
there, what an amazing program you put together that spanned so short an amount
of time.

Rocco Sbardella, Mobile Magic
“Thanks for an amazing class! This idea of mine has progressed so much in the last
two months and I don't think it would be as far along without your insights.”

Pam Saunders, PJ Coeur
“What I learned in Top Gun Prep absolutely aided my ability to submit a successful
[MTI TechStart] application - THANK YOU!!”

Steve Shaffer, Black Dinah Chocolatiers
“Thanks for giving me a better language to talk about business.”

Terry Cross, Armaid
“Thank you for helping me to see business life differently. And thank you again for
the leadership and organization you put into our Prep course - Good Job! So much
to learn and grow with....”

Charley Earley, EKLIPSE
“Just a personal note of thanks for the excellent Top Gun Prep class. I learned a lot
about valuable entrepreneurial prerequisites and parameters that I need to figure
out and implement. p.s. Remind me to tell you about the new product idea I came up
with while attending TGP!”

Richard Knight
“Awesome class...very motivating!”

Gordon Monk, Cloud 9 LLC
“I so much appreciate all you have provided for me and Cloud 9, LLC last year.
Without folks like you our effort would be so much more difficult. I am sincerely
fortunate to have benefitted greatly from your support and guidance. “