Gorham Savings Bank will begin accepting applications on March 1 for its 10th annual LaunchPad small business competition – this year as a hybrid in-person and livestreamed pitch event. In the competition, the premier event of its type in Maine, innovative small businesses compete for a $50,000 grant from the bank.
“Discovering an innovative and unique niche is hard; creating a business around it is even harder,” said Steve deCastro, president and CEO, Gorham Savings Bank. “LaunchPad has given us a front row seat to Maine’s dynamic entrepreneurial community, which we’ve seen grow steadily over the last 10 years.”
In 2021, HighByte, a Portland-based software start-up disrupting the global manufacturing tech market, earned the Bank’s $50,000 grant and declared that Maine is the new battle ground for recruiting top tech talent.
“LaunchPad is so much more than a check,” said Tory Penrod-Cambra, co-founder and chief communications officer, HighByte, 2021 LaunchPad $50,000 grant winner. “It gave us the opportunity to refine our pitch and sharpen our story. LaunchPad prepared us to speak with future investors and ultimately close a $3.5 million funding round 6 months later. Winning gave us the exposure we needed, right when we needed it most. My advice to applicants is to tell your story. Hone in on what makes you unique and innovative and be specific about how you will use the funds!”
The application deadline is Thursday, March 31 at 5:00pm. Entrepreneurs, start-ups, and established companies can apply now via a simple online application at gorhamsavings.bank/LaunchPad.
The application process is now easier than ever. Businesses can:
- Preview application questions before March 1
- Easily create an account, save a draft application, and return to finish it later
- Watch videos of preliminary judges discussing the competition’s criteria and what they look for on an application
- Access and update a previous submission if they applied to LaunchPad in 2019 or 2021
Preliminary judges will review all applications and then select five finalists to compete in-person on Tuesday, June 7 in Portland, at which time the winner will be announced.
Each finalist will pitch to a three-judge panel in front of a limited audience, while friends, family, and supporters watch via livestream from home. The livestream URL will be included in a press release announcing the five finalists in May.
LaunchPad judges this year are Kate McAleer, founder, Bixby Co., Catherine Cloudman, principal and board member, Village Fertility and co-founder of Apothecary by Design, and a third judge yet to be announced. Michelle Neujahr will emcee the competition again this year.
More than 550 participants spanning 100 plus Maine cities and towns from over 25 industries have applied to LaunchPad since its inception in 2013. Winners have received nearly $400,000 in no-strings-attached grant money from Gorham Savings Bank.
The LaunchPad competition also includes an additional $10,000 grant, and nearly $10,000 of in-kind business and marketing-related, business development, and public relations services from iBec Creative, Creative Imagine Group, Grove Marketing, Philbrook Public Relations, and others called the Emerging Business Award. Five additional finalists are selected to submit 60-second pitch videos to be shown while during the live stream. All LaunchPad applicants are considered for both prize levels, and no separate application is required. C. Love Cookie Project, earned the distinction in 2021.
If you own an innovative small business in Maine, or know someone who does, encourage them to apply to LaunchPad. Visit gorhamsavings.bank/LaunchPad to learn more or apply now through March 31.