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Updated: July 18, 2023

Applications sought for 2023 LaunchPad contest

Contest on stage File photo / Tim Greenway Melissa LaCasse, co-founder and CEO of Tanbark Molded Fiber Products, delivering her winning pitch to judges and a live audience at last year's Gorham Savings Bank LaunchPad event in Portland.

Applications for this year’s Gorham Savings Bank LaunchPad business-pitch contest opened this week, well ahead of the October event in Portland. In previous years, the event was held in the spring.

Besides the scheduling change, the 2023 edition will celebrate 10 years of helping Maine-based small businesses reach the next level with a $50,000 grant from Gorham Savings.

Last year’s winner was Tanbark Molded Fiber Products, a Saco-based company that designs and manufactures non-plastic packaging solutions. And last week, Tanbark won the $25,000 first prize in the “Greenlight Maine” televised business-pitch series on Maine Public Television.
“It’s amazing to think we’re celebrating 10 years of LaunchPad and doing our small part to actively supporting Maine’s vibrant entrepreneurial community,” said Steve deCastro, president and CEO of Gorham Savings Bank. “Looking back at past LaunchPad finalists and the success they’ve reached since winning, proves that GSB’s significant investment in this program is making a substantive and lasting impact on Maine’s business community.”

Reflecting on her LaunchPad experience, Tanbark co-founder Melissa LaCasse said it helped Tanbark her focus on “where we were as a company and where we wanted to go.”

Encouraging all small businesses to apply, she added, “You might just be the next winner.”

How to apply

Applications for the 2023 LaunchPad competition are due by Thursday, Aug. 24, at p.m., and may be submitted online; the format allows applicants to create an account and save a draft that can be amended and submitted later.
Once all applications are reviewed, judges will choose five finalists to compete on stage at a live event on Tuesday, Oct. 24, at the University of New England in Portland.

The contest includes an additional $10,000 Emerging Business Award grant, plus $10,000 of in-kind business and marketing-related, business development, and public relations services from iBec Creative, Creative Imagine Group, Grove Marketing, Philbrook Public Relations and Nu-Yar. 

NKENNE, a Portland-based African language learning app, won the Emerging Business Award in 2022. All LaunchPad applicants are considered for both grants, and no separate application is required.
The finalists will be announced in September.

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