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June 26, 2015

Eight entrepreneurs get SCORE 'Success Awards'

SCORE, the largest collaborative mentoring organization in Maine, handed out its “Success Awards” to eight entrepreneurs Thursday in a partner event with Maine Startup & Create Week.

Some 100 businesspeople, government representatives and mentors attended the event, which included Maine Department of Economic Development Commissioner George Gervais, Maine Technology Institute President Brian Whitney, Portland SCORE Chapter Chairwoman Nancy Strojny and Sea Bags Inc. President Beth Shissler.

Gervais, who formerly owned and operated three restaurants, offered the entrepreneurs some advice on paying attention to what’s going on in Augusta, which he admitted to not doing when he still ran the restaurants.

“It’s important to know what’s going on when a legislative session is going on,” he said. “So if someone says there is a bill that impacts your business, your radar should be up for that.”

Keynote speaker Shissler, who now employs nearly 50 people at her company, which sells bags made from reclaimed sail cloth, said with the 180,000 small businesses in Maine, where 90% of businesses are small, “This is the most exciting time to start a business in Maine.”

Her company, founded in 1999, saves tons of sails from landfills and turns them into unique tote bags.

Strojny introduced the winners of the awards, which she said were given for innovation, vision and achievement. The winners were among the 2,800 clients that SCORE chapters in Maine see annually.

Here are the “Success Award Winners”:

Encore 50+ Entrepreneur: Pauline Warg, Fartlek Jewelry, which raised $27,000 in an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. It makes precious-metal jewelry whose designs are derived from race routes. The jewelry is made as an award for personal and athletic accomplishments and cancer survival. Warg is a cancer survivor. Fartlek means “speed play” in Swedish.

Young Entrepreneur: Ben Davis, True Course Yachting Inc., a tailored yacht-management service started three years ago when Davis was 25. It offers three levels of products and soon will add a premium-level service. It has 11 employees and has grown 500% since it started. “The two best days of owning a boat are the day you buy it and the day you sell it,” Davis said, quoting an old yarn. “Our best days are in between.”

Innovation Entrepreneur: Patrick Roche, Think Tank, is close to signing a lease for a new co-working location in downtown Biddeford to add to the current downtown Portland and Yarmouth sites. Roche also is consulting with Lewiston/Auburn and Waterville to help them build co-working spaces.

Successful Business Plan Execution: Cecily Rich, Ginger’s House. Rich came to SCORE for counseling on creating her business plan for an extended care center for women to live a clean and sober lifestyle.

Non Profit: Marta Lane-Greenlaw, Speak Clearly Accent Reduction, a company that offers free language help to immigrants so they can speak English more clearly. The nonprofit received 501(c) status in 2014, and began its first classes for Asian and African immigrants in August 2014. It recently added a class for immigrant mothers.

Green Entrepreneur: Joe Walsh, Green Clean Maine, which cleans homes and offices with the environmentally friendly products it created. Started about 7-½ years ago, it now has $1.1 million in revenue and 27 employees.

Woman Owned Business: Leigh Kellis, The Holy Donut, which was started in March 2012 and grew from 3 to 28 employees in the first year-and-a-half. Its two shops make 5,000 hand-cut donuts from scratch every day.

Woman Owned Business: Watcharee Limanon, Thai Culinary Arts Studio, which offers hands-on instruction, interactive dinner cooking parties and cooking adventures. It also sells 100 cases of Thai sauces monthly across about 80 locations.

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