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Any Startup Opportunities Out There?

Written by CMG News Contributor, Doug Carleton

“We have this pre-conceived notion of what a ventilator should look like. My teacher Amory talks a lot about group-think; our brain gets stuck on the idea of what we want to do before we start exploring something that could be a better option.” That was 15-year old Emily Mickool at Baxter Academy in Portland, Maine. Baxter Academy engineering teacher Jon Amory instructed his students to learn everything about ventilators they could find so they could create kits that could be assembled quickly. They designed a ventilator that could be assembled using two crescent wrenches, an Allen key set, and a screwdriver.

The team was a part of the Covid-19 Challenge, a global competition to come up with a better and cheaper ventilator. There were 213 entries received from 40 countries. One of the finalists was a team in Scotland that came up with a design based on the owner’s pet project that he had been working on for years – a commercial coffee maker.


Because the pandemic has changed so much of the way we have done business and lived – some of it permanently, whole new ways of doing things and the things we do them with are sitting out there waiting and needing to be discovered. Semper vigilans – always watchful. To find opportunities for new businesses, watch things; listen to things; look at things; listen to what people are talking about that have changed or may have to be done in a new way. Maybe there are whole new industries out there. It’s waiting for someone to start a business to meet that need.

Necessity is the mother of invention.


This blog entry is a slightly edited excerpt from Doug Carleton's 'The Daily Life Of A Small Business Owner' series. Doug is a mentor with SCORE, Startup Virginia, and Lighthouse Labs, and has 25+ years of experience in small business finance including 12 years in SBA lending. To contact Doug directly, please email him at

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