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Updated: May 10, 2021

5 finalists named for $50,000 LaunchPad contest

Two entrepreneurs on stage at LaunchPad event in 2019 Photo / Tim Greenway LaunchPad was last held in 2019, when Casco Bay Creamery was crowned the winner.

Out of nearly 150 applicants for Gorham Savings Bank's relaunched LaunchPad competition in 2021, five finalists have been selected to vie for $50,000 in prize money at the June event.

The pitch competition is back this year after last year's cancellation because of the pandemic, and will take place via live stream on Tuesday, June 1, at 3:30 p.m. The finalists will compete for a $50,000 grant from Gorham Savings.

The 2021 finalists are: Brave Foods, of Portland; Erin Flett/Studio e Flett, of Gorham, whose founder was honored as a 2020 Mainebiz Woman to Watch; HighByte, of Portland; Huga Heat, of Southport; and Vintage Maine Kitchen, of Freeport, a returning finalist from 2019.

On the whole, preliminary judges found that 2021 applicants were as diverse as ever in terms of geography and industry. The applicant pool showed that Maine is fertile ground for innovation, particularly among startups focused on sustainability and technology.

The judges also noted that many applicants stood out for the creativity, agility, and perseverance they demonstrated over the past 15 challenging months.

“We saw a wonderfully diverse group of small businesses apply for LaunchPad this year, and we were impressed and energized by each of their stories” said Gorham Savings Bank CEO Steve deCastro. “We are greatly looking forward to hearing the finalists make their pitches; and we are just as excited to honor one additional applicant who navigated some extreme business challenges this year with outstanding agility.”

Emerging Business Award finalists

Five additional businesses have been chosen to submit a 60-second pitch video for the Emerging Business Award, now in its fourth year; those pitches will also be played on the event livestream. 

Finalists for that category are: bluShift Aerospace, of Brunswick:  C. Love Cookie Project/C. Love Baking Academy, of Portland; Marin Skincare, of South Portland; Prapela, of Biddeford; and the Cubby, of Waterville.

The Emerging Business Award winner will take home a $10,000 grant from Gorham Savings plus $10,000 worth of in-kind business and marketing services from Creative Imaging Group, Grove Marketing, iBec Creative, Philbrook PR and pro-voke.

And this year only, one business from the larger pool of nearly 150 applicants will be recognized with a special Business Agility Award for outstanding perseverance and response to the

The Business Agility Award winner will be announced during the livestream and receive $10,000 from Gorham Savings Bank.

Event details  

Interested viewers can register online to watch the live event on June 1 at 3:30pm. 

This year’s judges are: Ed McKersie, founder and president of ProSearch and founder of Live+Work in Maine; Kate McAleer, founder of Bixby & Co., 2014 LaunchPad winner and a 2014 Mainebiz Next list honoree; and Catherine Cloudman, a Gorham Savings board member, shareholder and board member of Village Fertility Pharmacy in Massachusetts, and a founder of Apothecary By Design in Portland.

Business consultant Michelle Neujahr of Nu-yar in Portland will emcee the event again this year.

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