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June 27, 2018

North Spore Mushroom wins Greenlight Maine finale

Courtesy / North Spore
Courtesy / North Spore
Eliah Thanhauser, North Spore's co-founder, accepts the $100,000 prize in Greenlight Maine's Season 3 finale.

North Spore Mushroom Co., an urban mushroom farm based in Westbrook, won $100,000 in Greenlight Maine's Season 3 entrepreneurial pitch contest, whose finale featured pitches by Forager, North Spore and Zootillity.

Earlier this month North Spore won $50,000 from the Gorham Savings Bank Launchpad competition, and it's the only Maine company to win both business contests.

In front of a live and enthusiastic audience at the Gracie Theater at Husson University in Bangor the three Maine companies went head to head for the coveted $100,000 cash prize. North Spore, Zootility and Forager made their best pitch to a panel of three distinguished judges comprised of Danielle Conway, dean of the University of Maine School of Law; Kathie Leonard, president and CEO of Auburn Manufacturing; and Mike Herrin, the COO of Emera Maine.
When the votes were cast North Spore came away with the cash by a margin of two to one.

Started in 2014 by three college friends, North Spore produces spawn, fresh mushrooms, medicinal mushroom products and kits to get people growing mushrooms at home.

While North Spore's fresh mushrooms are often featured at restaurants in Portland and at farmers' markets throughout Maine and Massachusetts, North Spore said in a news release it plans to use its $100,000 prize to increase its spawn production (i.e., mushroom "seeds") and get more people growing mushrooms in the garden.

Specifically, the prize will go towards new equipment to make spawn production more efficient and to expand its facility to increase production capacity.

"This is an amazing windfall for us," said Eliah Thanhauser, North Spore's co-founder who represented the company in both pitching competitions. "This capital will go a long way in helping us bring mushroom growing to the masses. And this recognition is a great honor and a testament to how far we have come since our humble beginnings in a 500-square-foot garage in Westbrook. I worked hard on preparing for these pitches, but it is still a little hard to believe we won both."

Along with its new ability to produce more spawn for mushroom farms and home gardens, North Spore said it will be rolling out high-quality educational videos as a resource for anyone interested in mushroom cultivation, including beginners attempting their first mushroom project and experienced farmers experimenting with a new mushroom species.

"North Spore has a vision for the future of home gardens and it includes fresh mushrooms in everyone's backyard," the company stated.

About Greenlight Maine

Courtesy / Greenlight Maine
Courtesy / Greenlight Maine
North Spore's Eliah Thanhauser joins the three judges and Greenlight host Julene Gervais at the finale.

Greenlight Maine is a collaboration between entrepreneurs and business leaders across the state of Maine and is designed to mentor and support small businesses. The business development program required each contestant to pitch their business plan to a panel of judges who provided feedback and advice.

A two-time Emmy nominated television series, Greenlight Maine is an entrepreneurial pitch contest offering a $100,000 prize that airs statewide on WCSH6 and WLBZ2. In addition to the $100,000 annual cash prize that is awarded to the winner of the season, millions have been invested in companies that have been showcased.

The series is the vision of Portland Media Group, a custom content and production company founded by Brian Corcoran, CEO of Shamrock Sports & Entertainment; Nat Thompson, former producer/owner of WCSH-6; and Con Fullam, an executive TV producer and music composer.

In its first three seasons, over 200 prospective companies have vied for the coveted prize purse and received mentoring from corporate and community leaders in Maine.

Corcoran reinforced there are no losers in Greenlight Maine, stating:

"In the past three years, we have joined hands with corporate and community leaders to provide priceless mentoring to grow the next generation of successful businesses. Without the continued support of our valued official partners — Bangor Savings Bank, Day's Jewelers, FAME, Husson University, Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, PretiFlaherty, MEMIC and WEX — Greenlight Maine does not exist. We thank them for another great season! We eagerly await to share exciting enhancements for Season 4 which will launch in September of 2018."

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