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Updated: March 2, 2022

LaunchPad business-pitch contest to go hybrid this year

Grand finale and check presentation at LaunchPad 2021 Screenshot After going virtual last year, the Gorham Savings Bank LaunchPad competition is opting for a hybrid format in 2022. Last year's winner was HighByte co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer Torey Penrod-Cambra, shown here when the prize was announced.

After going virtual in 2021, this year's Gorham Savings Bank LaunchPad competition for business startups will be in a hybrid in-person and livestreamed format, the organizer announced on Tuesday. 

Applications are open through the end of the month for participants in the 2022 edition, which will culminate with a June 7 event in Portland before a limited audience in person as well as online via a livestream. The audience program will be the first in-person final since 2019. 

As in other years, participating entrepreneurs, startups and established companies will vie against each other for a $50,000 grant from the bank to take their business to the next level.

“Discovering an innovative and unique niche is hard; creating a business around it is even harder,” said Steve deCastro, Gorham Savings Bank president and CEO. “LaunchPad has given us a front row seat to Maine’s dynamic entrepreneurial community, which we’ve seen grow steadily over the last 10 years.”

Last year's prize winner, Portland-based software startup HighByte, used its prize money to overcome challenges in what Torey Penrod-Cambra, the company's co-founder and chief marketing officer, described in her 2021 pitch as the "tech talent war."

On Tuesday, she told Mainebiz that the company invested the $50,000 prize money in recruiting new staff members as well as compensation for new hires to be more competitive with increasing market rates.

"At the time of the win, we had nine employees," she said. "Now we have 15 current employees, two with upcoming start dates and four open positions. We're essentially doubling year over year and expect that pace to continue."

To those applying for LaunchPad this year or considering doing so, she says the process is worth going through even if they don't walk away with $50,000.

"Use the service to help you better articulate your story, and think about what makes your company unique and innovative," she suggests. She also encourages those that have applied in the past and weren't accepted to try again, noting that HighByte also saw its first application rejected.

"The second time around, we had more progress, had more traction, and our story was clearer," she said. "This second application provided the win." 


After 2022 applications are submitted, five finalists will be chosen to compete on stage in the June 7 final, each pitching to a three-judge panel before a limited audience while fans can tune in remotely via the livestream. Details will be announced in May.

More than 550 participants from over 100 Maine communities have applied to LaunchPad since its inception in 2013. Winners have received nearly $400,000 in no-strings-attached grant money from Gorham Savings Bank.

The LaunchPad competition also includes another prize.

In addition, An Emerging Business Award winner will receive nearly $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 others.

Five additional finalists are selected to submit 60-second pitch videos to be shown while during the livestream.

All LaunchPad applicants are considered for both prize levels, and no separate application is required. C. Love Cookie Project received the Emerging Business Award in 2021.

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