Maine’s depth, breadth, and quality of technical and software talent is impressive, says Ben Kaplan, CEO of CashStar, a startup formed in Portland in 2007, which provides digital gifting services for major retail and restaurant brands such as Starbucks, Gap, Best Buy and Home Depot.
“There is an energy in the technology and startup communities here that feels like San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Boston,” Kaplan says. “It has the same vibe but on a smaller scale.”
Kaplan compares Portland to Seattle but with “skiing and lobster instead of rain.” Portland’s progressiveness and culture have been natural draws to tech-oriented workers. Its 90-minute proximity to Boston puts CashStar at the “center of gravity for technology and payment technology innovation,” Kaplan says.
While many of its employees are Maine natives, quality of place is a key selling point for the company, which has doubled its employment to more than 100 in the past few years and ranks as the sixth-fastest growing software company on the Inc. 500 list.