2023 Will Mark Over $500,000 In LaunchPad Grants

Gorham Savings Bank announced today the application period for its annual LaunchPad small business competition will open Monday, July 17. Celebrating its 10th year, LaunchPad provides innovative Maine-based small businesses with the opportunity to compete for a $50,000 grant from the bank to help launch the winner to the next level.

“It’s amazing to think we’re celebrating 10 years of LaunchPad and doing our small part to actively supporting Maine’s vibrant entrepreneurial community,” said Steve deCastro, president and CEO of Gorham Savings Bank. “Looking back at past LaunchPad finalists and the success they’ve reached since winning, proves that GSB’s significant investment in this program is making a substantive and lasting impact on Maine’s business community.”

In 2022, Tanbark, a Saco-based company that designs and manufactures non-plastic packaging solutions, won GSB’s $50,000 LaunchPad grant. During Tanbark’s pitch to the judges and live audience, co-founder Melissa LaCasse highlighted the harsh reality that 95 percent of plastic is not recycled and that almost every company on earth uses single-use plastic packaging. She described her mission to change that statistic by creating a revolutionary, sustainable solution using Maine trees and Maine labor.

“Participating in LaunchPad helped me laser in on where we were as a company and where we wanted to go,” said LaCasse. “It solidified our foundation and launched Tanbark at the same time. I highly encourage any and all small businesses to apply. You just might be the next winner. The $50,000 award and recognition we received impacted our business in a huge and positive way. The same could be true for your business.”

Application Deadline

The deadline to submit 2023 LaunchPad applications is Thursday, August 24 at 5:00pm at gorhamsavings.bank/launchpad.

Application Process

The online application process is simple and straightforward. Entrepreneurs can:

  • Create an account and save a draft application. This allows businesses to work on their application at their own pace and return to it later if needed.
  • Watch videos of judges discussing the competition’s criteria and what they look for on an application. This will help businesses understand what the judges are looking for and how to best pitch their business.
  • Hear podcast interviews with past winners and gain insight from their experiences competing in LaunchPad.

Live Event

Preliminary judges will review all applications and then select five finalists to compete in-person on Tuesday, October 24 in Portland at University of New England’s Innovation Hall located on Stevens Avenue. A 4:30pm social gathering will precede the 5:30pm competition. Former head of Maine Venture Fund, John Burns, will join returning judges Kristine Delano, strategic business advisor and host of WE Talk Careers podcast, and Kate McAleer of Bixby Chocolate on-stage at the event.

The LaunchPad competition also includes an additional $10,000 Emerging Business Award grant, which includes an additional $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 Nu-Yar. Five additional finalists are selected to submit 60-second pitch videos to be shown during the live event. NKENNE, a Portland-based African language learning app, earned the distinction in 2022. All LaunchPad applicants are considered for both grants, and no separate application is required.

The finalists will be announced via press release in September.

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 through August 24.