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Waterville, ME – Bricks Coworking & Innovation Space is excited to announce the launch of Waterville’s first collaborative incubator, Summer Startup. The pilot program is focused on providing aspiring student entrepreneurs opportunities to jumpstart their business ideas through formal training, entrepreneurial speakers and events, as well as active sessions with mentors and local industry experts. 

“Ultimately, we want to retain these talented students and their ideas in the community after graduation, with the long-term effect of a startup community here in Central Maine.” said RJ Anzelc, owner of Bricks Coworking & Innovation Space. “The only way we can do this is through collaboration, encouragement, and support from the local colleges, businesses, and community.” 

A handful of students from both Colby College and Thomas College have been active in the program since early June, attending Startup Maine in Portland, as well as working with their lead product mentor, Nick Rimsa. Nick, a product designer and co-founder of Eariously, has the students focus heavily on identifying problems to develop their ideas, and guide them through the initial steps of getting their idea off the ground. According to Rimsa, “It’s really hard to share an idea when we’re worried about what others will think, so the hardest part about making anything often times is just starting. But, some ideas are just too good to keep secret.”

This mentorship, in concert with the students’ diligence and persistence, has helped some of these students get to the point of developing early-stage businesses, including: Sklaza, an online marketplace built specifically for the exchange of goods on college campuses; Piefolio, a solution that creates, in less than an hour, an online portfolio for students to share with potential employers; Easy Eats, a food delivery service focused on the college campus. 

Alongside Bricks and Eariously, Anzelc said he has seen tremendous support from the local businesses, “Without our sponsors support in this idea of a program, it would not be possible. I could not be more appreciative of their belief in what we want to do.” These sponsors include Skowhegan Savings Bank, Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce, Harold Alfond Institute for Business Innovation at Thomas College, and GHM Insurance. “At Skowhegan Savings, we understand that small business drives our local economy, so we are proud to be able to support this program in its infancy,” said Dan Tilton, SVP of retail and customer relations for Skowhegan Savings. “I commend RJ and Nick for their dedication in creating this program and for giving students in the Waterville area this unique opportunity.”

Summer Startup has partnered with Central Maine Tech Night to kick off its “Startup Stories”, a monthly event featuring founders of Maine-based startups. This series will launch with a startup story from Justin Hafner, CEO and Co-Founder of KinoTek, on Thursday, July 18th at 5:00 PM at Bricks Coworking & Innovation Space. KinoTek, the 2019 Greenlight Maine Collegiate Champion, is breaking ground in the field of kinesiology. Using virtual reality and motion capture technology, KinoTek’s innovative software creates “X-ray vision” to improve athletic output and reduce the chance of injury. Hafner will share the UMaine startup’s journey to success, offering entrepreneurship lessons and technological insight.

On Wednesday, July 24th at Bricks Coworking & Innovation Space, the program will kick off its four-part Lean Startup “Boot Camp”. Occurring on four consecutive Wednesdays and open to the public, Mike Duguay, Executive Director of the Harold Alfond Institute for Business Innovation, will guide aspiring entrepreneurs through the 5 distinct stages of a business startup venture; (1) Idea Generation, (2) Market Validation, (3) Business Model Creation, (4) Scaling and (5) Digital and Social Media Marketing. Participants will assess their business idea and concept through the lens of a ‘customer centric’ approach.  Upon the conclusion of the Boot Camp, participants will be able to identify whether there is a customer base, sizable enough market and profit potential for their business venture. 

“We hope this beta program yields great results,” said Anzelc, “allowing us to expand the program to be run on a regular basis, bringing in new aspiring entrepreneurs each time to grow their businesses and our community.” 

For more information about this program or future programs, visit brickscoworking.com/summer-startup, follow Bricks Coworking & Innovation Space on Facebook, or contact RJ Anzelc at rj@brickscoworking.com. Bricks is a shared workspace in the Hathaway Creative Center in Waterville, featuring flexible daily and monthly rates on private offices, desk space, as well as meeting rooms.