As both a spectator and (frequently) self-proclaimed intellectual I can attest that last year’s Launchpad competition was an engaging presentation of innovation and salesmanship. Besides the inescapable backdrop of competition, LaunchPad offered us an inspiring glimpse of progressive Maine business, human interest stories, and infinite more reasons I belong in audiences and not on stage.
More than 200 applications were whittled down by judging panels and popular vote; in the end Pika Energy of Gorham, Maine and their home wind turbines were selected as the first-ever winner of LaunchPad and the $30,000 award. True to their original answer on the LaunchPad application that asked what their intentions were with the potential prize money, the clean energy gurus used it to help them move to a bigger space for production.
“LaunchPad came at a turning point for development,” explains Director of Business Development Andrew Hickok, “we were based out of a basement. It gave us the resources to make a move we’d been talking about and galvanized the team.” With the money, Pika Energy was finally able to attain a space that could house the heavy machinery needed to put their idea into production for consumers. This year, the team is in early production of 30 turbines; at this time in 2014 they hope to triple that number.
As a competitor and presenter, Pika Energy set the bar very high for the 2014 LaunchPad hopefuls. “We are passionate about what we do. We were uniquely well-positioned to bring the product to the market,” Hickok explains.
As for the nerve-wracking, lightning-fast-five-minute-presentation in front of hundreds? “Ben [Polito, President and Co-Founder] had been in front of audiences; he had honed his presentation…you have to show and tell why your product is viable.” This is exactly LaunchPad’s point and why Pika Energy was so deserving of the win. Their presentation was excellent and their product is undeniably something Maine should feel fortunate to have.