From a pool of nearly 150 applicants, five rose to the top and will move on as finalists to the next round of our eighth annual LaunchPad small business competition: a livestream, in-studio pitch competition taking place Tuesday, June 1 at 3:30pm.
Five additional businesses have been chosen to submit a 60-second pitch video for the Emerging Business Award, now in its fourth year. These videos will also be played on the event livestream. Anyone can watch — RSVP for access.
After finalists deliver their pitches, a panel of three judges from the Maine businesses community will award the grand prize – a $50,000 grant from Gorham Savings Bank – to one of the five finalists. Judges will also choose an Emerging Business Award winner, who will take home a $10,000 grant from GSB plus $10,000 worth of in-kind business and marketing services from Creative Imaging Group, Grove Marketing, iBec Creative, Philbrook PR and pro-voke.
And this year only, one business from the larger pool of nearly 150 applicants will be recognized with a special Business Agility Award for outstanding perseverance and response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Business Agility Award winner will be announced during the livestream and granted $10,000 from Gorham Savings Bank.
The 2021 LaunchPad finalists are:
Brave Foods (Cooper, Des, Alex and Ryan Fitzgerald, and David Gorvy – Portland). Brave Foods wants to change the way you start your day. The founders created a way to eat a quick breakfast without compromising what your body needs. Their breakfasts include whole plant-based foods, protein, fiber, and healthy fats to fuel your morning.
Studio e Flett Design (Erin Flett – Gorham). Studio e Flett is a bold, colorful lifestyle brand with big ambitions. Erin Flett is a textile designer who hand-draws and prints all her own original prints and colors. Her designs appear on hand-sewn pillows, bags, tabletop goods and even wallpaper. Flett wants to leave a design legacy that brings people joy forever.
HighByte (Torey Penrod-Cambra, Tony Paine and John Harrington – Portland). HighByte is a first mover in the Industrial DataOps software category, disrupting the global manufacturing tech market by 1.) creating a new approach to data integration and security and 2.) improving data quality and reducing time spent preparing data for use throughout the enterprise.
Hüga Heat (Jocelyn Olsen and Colin Greig – Southport). Hüga Heat is an outdoor seating solution that provides up to 8 hours of steady, comfy heat for months more outdoor entertaining possibilities. Hüga brings people together outdoors to enjoy nature, friends, and family throughout the year by warming your core from the bottom up!
Vintage Maine Kitchen (Kelly and Scott Brodeur – Freeport). Vintage Maine Kitchen, a returning LaunchPad finalist from 2019, harnesses nostalgia through the potato chip. Made from locally sourced, real food ingredients that are as satisfying as a plate of hand-cut fries, these super thin and crispy chips with just enough seasoning will bring back memories of your childhood.
The 2021 LaunchPad Emerging Business Award finalists are: bluShift Aerospace (Sascha Deri – Brunswick), C. Love Cookie Project (Katherine Slevin – Portland), Marin Skincare (Patrick Breeding, Amber Boutiette, Jeremy Boutot – South Portland), Prapela (John Konsin, Dr. David Paydarfar, James Niemi – Biddeford), and The Cubby (Joshua Kim, Matteo Cugno, Domenico Ottolia, Anthony Speros – Waterville).
Applications for this year’s competition were submitted via an online form during the entry period of March 1 – April 1. After reviewing nearly 150 applications, the preliminary judges brought three key insights back to the Bank: first, the industries and business models represented were as diverse as ever. Second, they served as proof that Maine is fertile ground for innovation, particularly among startups focused on sustainability and technology. And third, many applicants stood out for the creativity, agility, and perseverance they showed over the past 15 challenging months.
According to Gorham Savings Bank CEO Steve deCastro, that final insight was what inspired the creation of the Business Agility Award.
“We saw a wonderfully diverse group of small businesses apply for LaunchPad this year, and we were impressed and energized by each of their stories” deCastro said. “We are greatly looking forward to hearing the finalists make their pitches; and we are just as excited to honor one additional applicant who navigated some extreme business challenges this year with outstanding agility.”
This year’s event judges are: Ed McKersie (founder and president of ProSearch and founder of LiveandWorkinMaine); Kate McAleer (founder, Bixby & Co. and 2014 LaunchPad winner), and Catherine Cloudman (shareholder and board member, Village Fertility Pharmacy). Business consultant Michelle Neujahr of Nu-yar will emcee the event again this year.
Register online to watch Maine’s top entrepreneurs compete live online on Tuesday, June 1 at 3:30pm.