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October 1, 2018
Biz Money

Pitch-contest season moves into high gear

Maine's start-up community seems to thrive on the annual pitch contests.

The contests involve a cash prize. But the longer-term gain for many participants may be the chance to hone their pitch, sharpening the ability to tell a company's story. There's also exposure to an audience of potential investors.

The Maine Center for Entrepreneurs is now accepting applications for its 2019 Top Gun competition for Maine's most promising early stage, high-growth potential companies between now and Nov. 9.

The highly selective program will accept between eight and 10 companies in Portland, Bangor, Lewiston-Auburn, Rockland and Waterville. It comes with a $25,000 cash prize.

The Waterville location will offer a new Top Gun Program specifically for companies in the food and beverage sector, including farmers, producers, processors and businesses that provide support services.

After completing a short online application, prospective companies are required to submit a pitch deck and present a live pitch to the interview committee in their location of choice. Optional "pre-flight workshops" will be offered before the November deadline to help applications prepare pitch decks and polish live pitches.

The contest culminates with two regional pitch-off events, and the top two semi-finalists in each region will move on to the statewide showcase to compete for a cash prize sponsored by the Maine Technology Institute.

The most recent Top Gun winner, selected in May, was Erica Schmitz, founder of Portland startup MyBodyModel, a web app that creates fashion-sketching templates unique to the user's body measurements.

Other pitch competitions coming up

Gorham Savings Bank's LaunchPad, with a $50,000 prize, usually has its application period from mid-March to mid-April. The most recent winner was North Spore Mushrooms, a Westbrook company that sells specialty mushroom kits on Amazon and directly to restaurants.

"Greenlight Maine," which airs statewide on WCSH6 and WLBZ2, typically takes applications in May. The $100,000 prize is coveted. The most recent winner was, like LaunchPad, North Spore Mushrooms.

Other resources include Maine Technology Institute (mainetechnology.org), New Ventures Maine (newventuresmaine.org) and the Finance Authority of Maine (famemaine.com).

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