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May 13, 2022

LaunchPad, Top Gun pitch contest finalists named

Erin Flett in her design studio at a desk File Photo / Tim Greenway Erin Flett, a returning Gorham Savings Bank LaunchPad finalist from 2021, was honored as a Mainebiz Woman to Watch in 2020. She is shown here with her dog, Louie, at her office in Gorham.

Maine business-pitch contest season is in full swing, with the Gorham Savings LaunchPad and Top Gun programs both gearing up for their 2022 grand finales. 

The 2022 LaunchPad finalists are:

  • Bookclubs, a Camden-based book club organizer
  • True Fin, a Portland seafood processor formerly known as Gulf of Maine Sashimi)
  • Maine Food Group, a Brunswick-based value-add ingredient processor and specialty food manufacturer
  • Studio E Flett in Gorham; the textile studio is owned by Erin Flett, a returning finalist from 2021 and Mainebiz Woman to Watch in 2020
  • Tanbark, a North Yarmouth-based maker of earth-friendly molded fiber packaging. 

All five finalists will compete for a $50,000 grand prize in a live pitch-off scheduled for Tuesday, June 7, at the University of New England's Innovation Hall in Portland. 

Five additional startups will compete for a $10,000 grant from GSB plus $10,000 worth of in-kind business and marketing services from a host of Maine service providers.

The Emerging Business Award winner will also be announced on June 7. 

Finalists for the Emerging Business category are: 

  • Eskuad, a Portland-based mobile field-data platform provider that participated in the Roux Techstars Accelerator program
  • FibrWorks, a Gray-based provider of hemp-based sustainable materials
  • NKENNE, a Portland-based African language learning app
  • Ocean Farm Supply, of Portland
  • Pumpspotting, based in the York town of Eliot and founded by Mainebiz 2021 Next List honoree Amy VanHaren.

Last year's LaunchPad winner was Portland-based industrial software startup HighByte, while Portland's C. Love Cookie Project, a mission-driven bakery that employs immigrant women, took home the Emerging Business Award. 

Top Gun Showcase on May 26

Not to be outdone, the Top Gun program run by the Maine Center for Entrepreneurs will hold its 2022 Showcase event later this month. Five startups will compete for a $25,000 cash prize sponsored by the Maine Technology Institute. 

The evening event will be held on Thursday, May 26, at the University of Southern Maine's Hannaford Hall.

Following regional pitch-offs in Bangor, Lewiston-Auburn and Portland, the five finalists selected to compete in the 2022 Top Gun Showcase are: 

  • Bijou Build, a Waterville developer of collapsible outdoor play structures with interchangeable panels
  • Finsulate, a Portland-based maker of an eco-friendly anti-fouling solution for watercraft
  • Rugged Seas, a Portland-based company that recycles fisherman’s gear turned into products and wearables with a percentage of profits going to the Maine Coast Fishermen's Association and the Maine Lobstermen's Association
  • Seaweed Evolution, of Bangor
  • Teach 2 Move, a Lewiston-Auburn startup seeking to help schools, coaches and administrators get a better handle on athletes' social and emotional needs.
Tom Rainey in office
File photo / Tim Greenway
Tom Rainey, executive director of the Maine Center for Entrepreneurs.

Top Gun is an annual program for  entrepreneurs that combines mentoring with learning sessions held in Portland, Bangor, Lewiston-Auburn and Waterville.

Since it was launched in 2009, Top Gun has helped more than 300 entrepreneurs take their business to the next level.

The Maine Center for Entrepreneurs is led by Executive Director Tom Rainey.

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