40 Stories for 40 Years – Profilee 14
Judy came to New Ventures Maine in 2005 when she wanted to expand her summer camp business. Her background was in education and she did not have formal business training. While she knew where she wanted her business to go, she wasn’t sure how to get there.
Realizing she needed guidance, Judy decided to enroll in NVME’s Venturing Forth entrepreneurship class. The 60-hour training and follow-up sessions helped her focus on her goals. In addition to the class curriculum, NVME Microenterprise Specialist, Wendy Rose, supported her in finding the expertise she needed for each new step in the growth of her business. “Wendy never said ‘impossible.’ She said, how would you start, what do you need, and then introduced me to people who could help. Wendy had a way of breaking down large goals into manageable tasks,” Judy shares.
After successfully completing the class, Judy was ready to move forward. To start, she received a Maine Technology Institute Seed Grant to launch her line of hands-on science kits in 2006. Then, Judy’s success continued as the DaVinci Experience expanded to 11 summer campsites in four states.
Over the years, Judy mentored hundreds of young people who worked at the camps. For many of them, working as a counselor-in-training or camp counselor was their first job. The young teachers who led the campers helped Judy stay current, and they learned from her experience. As a result, Judy has had a lasting impact on generations of Maine people.
A Lasting Impact
Now, Judy is transitioning to retirement. She sold the DaVinci Experience in 2018 after 20 successful years of operation. The new owner, a former camper, will grow the business and continue Judy’s vision. “My goal of creating a business that would live on beyond me and expand nationally is happening,” Judy shares.
Judy’s greatest joy has been getting to know all the wonderful people who helped her along the way, including her fellow NVME graduates. Judy says, “Maine has been a good place to start a business because it is small enough that people help each other out.” Because NVME had such a lasting impact in her life, Judy became a NVME Graduate Ambassador in 2012.
Judy’s advice to someone starting out would be to take advantage of the NVME courses that fill gaps in your knowledge and experience.