UBC: What would it mean to you and to your business to win the UMaine Business Challenge?
James and Nate: From the very beginning, Stillwater Poster Company, LLC has been dedicated to doing business in a way that directly benefits the local community and businesses. Our art comes from UMaine students, our prints are made locally, we ship via the local USPS office, our up-coming framing option is sourced locally, and we give back to students and UMaine directly. Winning the UMaine Business Challenge would enable us to accelerate our impact on the local community and the University of Maine.
UBC: You have many challenges on your road to entrepreneurship and to conquer these will inevitably take hard work and dedication. With that in mind, what is the inspiration behind starting your own business?
James and Nate: We started Stillwater Poster Company with a passion for two things: building a business that would enable us to learn and give back in a proactive, sustainable way, and enabling alumni to give back to their alma mater in a more meaningful way. Using those two objectives, we created the business model and launched Stillwater Poster Company. In everything we do, we focus on that mission, and ask ourselves the question, “Will this improve the lives of students, benefit the University or add meaning to alumni?”
UBC: Part of the mission of the UBC is to take Maine from 51 to 35 on best states for business. Why have you decided to start your business in Maine?
James and Nate: What we did NOT do is look at a spreadsheet of tax rates or regulations and pick the lowest. We believe that the metric used to judge Maine as the “worst” state for business discounts the benefits that define Stillwater Poster Company from the ground up — quality of life, adding meaning to your community and creating a sustainable opportunity for growth. In addition to one of the best workforces in the world, Mainers define success as that sustainable opportunity — not immediate gratification. Rather than waiting for institutional change, we believe that we can create a model which could lead the revolution needed in the business climate of Maine. That is the mission we are on, and that is why we started our company in the great state of Maine.
UBC: We love our Alma Mater, so we have to ask, what’s your favorite thing about UMaine?
James and Nate: By far, the best thing about being a Black Bear is the sense of community that’s created across all academic disciplines. We are a great example of what kind of friendships, educational opportunities and partnerships come about in a setting which doesn’t just encourage, but indeed demands, cross-discipline collaboration (James is a Chemical Engineering PhD candidate, Nate is a Political Science major). Being part of the UMaine community makes us part of a family of over 100,000 alumni, and it’s our purpose to help spread the word that Maine is the way life should be!
More tangibly, the chills and exuberance felt when singing the stein song at a hockey game cannot be matched. GO BLUE!