☎️ Contact information

🏡 54 Sylvan Rd., South Portland, ME 04106

📧 Email: whit.richardson@gmail.com

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📝 About me

I'm an entrepreneur, PR pro, and startup-community builder based in Portland, Maine 🌊 with more than 15 years experience in building digital media businesses, journalism, and PR.

I've been a champion for the Maine startup community for nearly a decade, first as a journalist and then as a founder and community organizer. I have a passion for Maine, leveraging technology for good, and creating a vibrant startup community with a #givefirst mentality.

I've founded two local companies and was an early hire at a third out-of-state company where I led PR and investor relations from early days through several private financing rounds and going public, which happened the summer of 2019.

I first became involved in the Maine startup community as a business reporter and editor. Back in the mid 2000s, I helped launch Mainebiz’s first daily newsletter, serving as its editor for several years. Later, I launched the Portland Press Herald's first blog focused on the startup community (went defunct after I left) and got involved with events, such as Maine Startup and Create Week. My role began to be noticed and I was invited to interview Steve Case, founder of AOL, on stage when the Rise of the Rest tour came through Portland, Maine, several years ago.

I think of my early career in business journalism as my own personal altMBA as I spent years doing nothing but interviewing founders, researching market forces, and digging into business models and business failures until I understood them well enough that I could distill the essential parts and communicate them to a general audience. While I don't have direct experience in startup investing, much of what I did on a daily basis as a business journalist is akin to the activities and due diligence required of an investor.

The highlight of my journalism career was winning a Gerald Loeb Award, among the highest honors in journalism, for an investigative series I researched and wrote while at the Portland Press Herald that revealed how private equity firms used complex financial deal structures to take advantage of a state tax credit program.

I left journalism to co-found a digital media startup that was going to be the Forbes for the legal cannabis industry. That project was shelved after the company bankrolling the project decided to invest all its resources in a different direction. Having got on well with the CEO of that company, he brought me onboard to lead its corporate communications and investor relations. Over the next four years, I led PR for the company, from startup through the going-public process.

Having gone through that experience and, after leaving the newspaper, realizing Maine's startup community was no longer getting as much media coverage as it deserved, I created Maine Startups Insider to spread the positive stories of Maine founders and highlight that plenty of innovation is happening outside the major tech hubs. In the past five years, I've built MSI into the go-to source for news, information, analysis, and job postings for Maine's startup community. The level of its impact on the community has surprised even me. I still remember the first time someone stopped me at an event to tell me that MSI, and the evidence it provided of a vibrant startup community, played a pivotal role in them feeling comfortable moving to Maine.

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I've organized, hosted, and emceed several events, from a film screening for a mini-doc I produced in collaboration with Startup Maine about Maine founders traveling to TechCrunch's Disrupt conference (see more below) to a Clubhouse room about Maine startups. The film screening was attended by roughly 200 people, including Conrad Holloman, who was Techstars' growth director at the time and drove up from Boston to attend.

When not working on MSI, I'm a partner at Brickyard Collective, a growth-marketing firm I co-founded in March 2020 that helps business owners develop, refine and/or launch their brands, as well as develops our own DTC e-commerce brands in-house.

Embracing Brad Feld's thesis that thriving startup communities need to be led by entrepreneurs, I've sought to both give back to the community in terms of using MSI to elevate the profile of our founders and community and act as an onramp for others interested in joining our innovation ecosystem (I usually book at least one call a month with someone outside the state who is considering moving to Portland and wants to learn more about the startup community here).

My experiences in business and various roles in the community, most especially MSI, mean I have a deep network in the Maine startup ecosystem (including founders, investors, and ecosystem supporters) and could hit the ground running to help Techstars and the Roux Institute get a mentor-driven accelerator program off the ground.

For these reasons, I think I'm a good fit for the Managing Director role and I look forward to the opportunity to interview for this position.