Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

March 1, 2021

Gorham Savings relaunches LaunchPad business pitch contest

Two entrepreneurs on stage at LaunchPad event in 2019 Photo / Tim Greenway LaunchPad, back in 2021, will feature a finale that will be livestreamed rather than onstage. The 2019 winning team from Casco Bay Creamery is shown on stage making its pitch.

After a forced hiatus in 2020 because of the pandemic, Gorham Savings Bank's annual LaunchPad competition is back this year in a virtual format.

Applications are now open for the eighth edition of the annual small business competition, in which promising small businesses will vie for a $50,000 grant from the bank with a livestream event planned for June 1.

“We’re truly excited to bring LaunchPad back this year and can’t wait to review the applications. We know we are going to learn a lot about how Maine’s small businesses have adapted and innovated to meet the new reality and address new needs and challenges,” said Steve deCastro, president and CEO of Gorham Savings Bank, in a news release.

“Innovation, agility and entrepreneurial thinking is critical to the economic vitality of Maine, and we look forward to our grants helping a few small businesses launch themselves to the next level."

More than 550 participants from 100-plus Maine cities and towns and more than 25 industries have applied to LaunchPad since 2013. Winners have received more than $300,000 in grants from Gorham Savings.

One of the best known past LaunchPad participants is Flowfold, which was crowned the 2015 winner. Devin McNeill, the company's CEO and co-founder, told Mainebiz the company used its winnings to purchase equipment needed to launch its backpack and tote bag line and fulfill orders for L.L.Bean Inc. During the pandemic, the niche textile manufacturer has been making face shields.

Asked about any tips for this year's LaunchPad contestants, McNeill said, "I would advise all participants to study past competitions. Learn what has worked well in the past and see how it can apply to your business and pitch." 

Jennell Carter, co-founder of 2019 LaunchPad winner Casco Bay Creamery, told Mainebiz she thinks this year's contest will be interesting because it "has the potential for existing businesses to showcase how they have pivoted and what they need to forge ahead, as well other businesses that have found a niche."

She added that Gorham Savings Bank continues to be a great partner for her company, which used the funds it won to buy equipment to boost its production capability and efficiency.

Carter's advice to anyone considering giving LaunchPad a try: "Do it, because in the end, win or lose, you have a strategic path forward that can help guide you in your day to day operation and decision making."

Livestream plan and judges

In the 2021 LaunchPad contest, five finalists will be invited to compete live in-studio on Tuesday, June 1, at AV Technik in Scarborough, and the winner will be announced then.

Each finalist will pitch to a three-judge panel, but in keeping with while current health guidelines, friends, family and supporters will need to watch via livestream.

LaunchPad judges this year are 2014 LaunchPad winner Kate McAleer, founder of Bixby & Co. and a 2014 Mainebiz Next list honoree; Catherine Cloudman, principal and board member of Village Fertility and co-founder of Apothecary By Design, which was acquired by CVS Health in 2018; and Ford Reiche, entrepreneur and founder of Safe Handling and a 2008 Mainebiz Business Leader of the Year.

Emerging Business Award

The 2021 LaunchPad competition also includes an additional $10,000 prize for the Emerging Business Award winner, and $10,000 of in-kind business and marketing-related, business development and public relations services from iBec Creative, Creative Imagine Group, Grove Marketing, pro-voke and Philbrook Public Relations. Five additional finalists are selected to submit 60-second pitch videos to be shown during the livestream. 

All LaunchPad applicants are considered for both prize levels, and no separate application is required. MyBodyModel, an app that makes custom fashion sketch templates with realistic body measurements, earned the distinction in 2019.

How to apply 

The application period runs through Thursday, April 1, at 5 p.m.

Entrepreneurs, startups and established companies can enter here. This year's online system allows entrants to create an account, save a draft application and return to finish it later; watch videos of preliminary judges discussing the competition’s criteria and what they look for on an application; and access and update a previous submission if they applied to LaunchPad in 2019.

Judging criteria includes viability and scalability.

How to watch

Register to watch the June 1 livestream here. URL coordinates will be released when the five finalists are announced.

Sign up for Enews

Related Content


Order a PDF