$500,000 in Grants

To Maine Small Businesses Since 2013

2023 Winner



Bookclubs, a social network and app for readers that makes it easy to start, manage, and join a book club, impressed the judges with the company’s growth over the past year, not only in its user numbers, but also in its potential to scale to different verticals beyond just literary groups. They plan to use the grant to hire an experienced UI/UX designer who could optimize the app for club activation and conversion to its premium paid version.

2023 Finalists

  • Bijou Build
  • Bonsie
  • Ocean Data Network

2023 Emerging Business Winner: Amply Energy

2022 Winner



Tanbark impressed the judges with a detailed, succinct pitch describing how they aim to fill a much-needed void in the packaging industry. Tanbark provides lower-volume, higher-value, custom sustainable solutions that utilize Maine’s natural resources for companies looking to replace plastic. They plan to use the funds to hire a designer and grow manufacturing jobs in Maine.

Where are they now? Tanbark began production in October 2023 with notable clients, Luke’s Lobster and Hannaford.

2022 Finalists

  • Bookclubs
  • True Fin
  • Maine Food Group
  • Erin Flett / e Flett Design Studio

2022 Emerging Business Winner: NKENNE

2022 Surprise $5,000 Award Recipient: True Fin

LaunchPad 2022 Finalist, Tanbark
2021 Winner



Tech innovator HighByte impressed judges with its strong management team and desire to grow tech jobs in Maine. 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 an enterprise.

Where are they now? HighByte went on to close a $3.5 million funding round six months later and has since moved into a larger space.

2021 Finalists

  • Brave Foods
  • Erin Flett / e Flett Design Studio
  • Huga Heat
  • Vintage Maine Kitchen

2021 Emerging Business Winner: C. Love Baking Academy

2021 Business Agility Award Recipient: Zootility

2019 Winner

Casco Bay Creamery


Casco Bay Creamery, a returning finalist from 2015, makes creamy, delicious grass-fed butter and cream cheese. The company’s business model, growth strategy, and ability to adapt to an ever-changing marketplace impressed LaunchPad’s judges. Alicia and Jennell used the $50,000 to purchase machinery that enabled them to pack more efficiently and increase production.

Where are they now? Since LaunchPad, Casco Bay secured a large-scale contract. They’re growing rapidly and have moved into a larger facility.

2019 Finalists

  • CourseStorm
  • GO Lab
  • Sidewalk Buttler
  • Vintage Maine Kitchen

2019 Emerging Business Winner: MyBodyModel

2018 Winner



North Spore, a returning finalist from 2017, produces specialty mushrooms, mushroom products and mushroom spawn, changing the way the world interacts with mushrooms through innovation and education. North Spore rose to the top by explaining how it could double production capacity and greatly increase efficiency with an autoclave and autobagger, two machines they purchased with the $50,000 grant.

Where are they now? North Spore went on to win Greenlight Maine the same year. During the COVID pandemic, sales of introductory mushroom growing kits increased 400% over the previous spring.

2018 Finalists

  • American Roots
  • Bangs Island Mussels
  • Blue Ox Malthouse
  • Wallace James Clothing Co.

2018 Emerging Business Winner: NavigatER

2017 Winner



Good To-Go is the first line of all-natural dehydrated meals made for active individuals. For years, the options were mushy freeze-dried food, but no more! Designed to vastly elevate the trail food experience, each meal is handmade by nationally-recognized chef Jennifer Scism. Good To-Go has revolutionized the underserved market of adventure seekers who are looking for healthy, delicious and easy to prepare food options.

Where are they now? Good To-Go completed a facility expansion shortly after winning LaunchPad. The COVID pandemic spurred major growth with a record number of people camping and spending time outdoors.

2017 Finalists

  • Jellux
  • North Spore
  • STARC Systems
  • UniteGPS

2017 Emerging Business Winner: American Unagi

2016 Winner



Fluid Farms, which grew greens and freshwater fish in Maine’s only MOFGA-certified organic aquaponics greenhouse, was named the 2016 LaunchPad winner by an independent panel of judges including WEX President & CEO Melissa Smith; Winxnet CEO and Co-founder Chris Claudio; and SMCC’s Entrepreneurial Center Director Michelle Neujhar. Co-Founder Tyler Gaudet planned to invest the $50,000 grant in a more energy-efficient heating system that would help Fluid Farms better meet the needs of major distributors.

Where are they now? Despite a strong start, Fluid Farms is no longer operational.

2016 Finalists

  • Blue Ox Malthouse
  • Garbage to Garden
  • Good To-Go
  • UniteGPS
2015 Winner


Peaks Island

Gorham Savings Bank announced FlowFold as its third LaunchPad winner after a live, high-energy competition. Originally based on Peaks Island, FlowFold designs and produces wallets, totes and everyday gear that’s 100% Maine-made using some of the world’s strongest materials. The company’s mission is to build quality products, deliver a great experience and support the local workforce. The grant enabled FlowFold to purchase new equipment to scale production for a growing roster of national accounts.

Where are they now? Flowfold has since launched a collection in partnership with L.L. Bean, including the first-ever Bean Boot collaboration. In response to the COVID pandemic, they began making face shields and opened a second facility as demand grew.

2015 Finalists

  • Casco Bay Butter
  • Sentry EHS
  • Saco River Dyehouse
  • Beach Glass Transitions
2014 Winner



After a dynamic presentation to our panel of judges at the live LaunchPad event, Kate McAleer, founder, took home the $30,000 grant for her company, Bixby & Co., which makes organic chocolates blended with dried fruits, nuts, organic brown rice crisps and selected spices. Bixby used the $30,000 to make capital investments in equipment to prepare for the company’s national launch. The award helped improve the quality, speed and consistency of its manufacturing process.

Where are they now? Kate has since won three sofi Awards, a Tory Burch Foundation Fellows Competition, was named a National Confectioners Association Future Leader, and received many other accolades. Bixby expanded to a line of snack-sized bites, drinking chocolate, and opened a bean-to-bar retail store.

2014 Finalists

  • Chimani
  • Flowfold
  • Double Blue Sports Analytics
  • Garbage to Garden
2013 Winner



Pika Energy, announced as the first LaunchPad winner, was founded by MIT engineers in 2010 to help families cut their home electric bills and reduce their environmental impact. The company designs, builds and tests affordable, high-quality personal wind turbines—and does it all right here in Maine. Pika’s founders had previously designed a leading home wind turbine system called SkyStream; at Pika, they developed cost and performance innovations that cut total costs in half and improved the system’s overall flexibility and ease of ownership.

Where are they now? Pika Energy products are now sold and installed throughout North America. In 2019, Pika was acquired by Generac Holdings, Inc. but continues to grow rapidly in Maine.

2013 Finalists

  • Atayne
  • Coastal Farms and Foods
  • Green Bee Soda
  • Montecito Roadhouse
  • Resurgam Zero Food Waste
  • Saco River Dyehouse
Pika Energy