Five early-stage Maine businesses have been selected as the finalists of Gorham Savings Bank's annual LaunchPad small business competition. From an applicant pool of over 130 businesses, Good-To-Go, Jellux, North Spore, STARC Systems and UniteGPS rose to the top and will move onto the next round – a live pitch competition to be held the evening of Tuesday, June 6 at USM’s Hannaford Hall in Portland.
There, in front of a live audience, an independent panel of judges will decide which of these small-but-promising Maine businesses will be awarded the $50,000 grant from Gorham Savings Bank. Returning this year are LaunchPad judges WEX President & CEO Melissa Smith, Winxnet CEO and Co-founder Chris Claudio, and the Director of SMCC’s Entrepreneurial Center, Michelle Neujahr.
New to LaunchPad this year, Gorham Savings Bank will introduce the Emerging Idea Award. This additional $10,000 grant prize will also include $10,000 of in-kind marketing, business development and public relations services from iBec Creative, Creative Imaging Group, Grove Marketing, Chris Philbrook PR and Pro-voke. The winner will be selected from the remaining applicants and announced at the live event.
Now in its fifth year, the premier small business competition of its kind, Gorham Savings Bank’s LaunchPad helps Maine innovators and entrepreneurs get off the ground. Entries for this year’s competition were submitted via an online form during the entry period of March 15-April 15.
While each of this year’s finalists operates in a different niche, common threads among what they offer include technology, food and convenience in a busy world.
Good To-Go, located in Kittery, is the first line of all-natural dehydrated gourmet meals catering to active adventurers. Designed to vastly elevate the trail food experience, each meal is handmade by nationally-recognized chef Jennifer Scism, who once defeated Mario Batali on Food Network’s Iron Chef.
Jellux, from Saco, produces innovative, impact resistant, waterproof advanced marine and outdoor lighting for the average homeowner to install and enjoy year round. Their “Plug and Play” LED bands make the water glow under a dock or area around the deck or patio.
Operating out of Westbrook, North Spore, provides access to the mycological world through cultivation, education and innovation. The company produces gourmet mushrooms and spawn for both retail and commercial use. North Spore is striving to be a community hub for fungi enthusiasts: a place where people learn to love mushrooms and admire this often overlooked biological kingdom.
STARC Systems, located in Brunswick, is a modular, telescopic wall system which prevents debris and noise from disseminating throughout an occupied building during construction or renovation. STARC’s temporary containment system helps companies maintain their brand, even during a renovation with a temporary containment system that looks like a finished product.
Rounding out the finalists, UniteGPS of Portland aims to elevate a different, and sometimes less pleasurable, outdoor experience – waiting for the school bus. Their transformational GPS solution, CrossWalk, solves the problems of parents and students not knowing just when the bus will arrive each day.
“Maine’s economy is made up of thousands of small and innovative businesses. We’re constantly inspired by the success stories we hear from entrepreneurs” said Chris Emmons, President and CEO of Gorham Savings Bank. “Not only do we want to see those numbers grow; we want to see more of those businesses succeed. The excitement around the competition only demonstrates the strength of entrepreneurship in Maine.”