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September 25, 2020

Lewiston ed tech startup takes home $25K prize in Top Gun showcase

Courtesy / MCE VIA FACEBOOK Tom Rainey, executive director of the Maine Center for Entrepreneurs, presents the Top Gun prize check Wednesday to Michelle DeBlois, center, of Literacy Tech Inc.

Nine companies faced off Wednesday night in the finale of this year’s Top Gun program, the annual startup cultivation competition, and the developer of a learning app took home the grand prize of $25,000.

All nine made pitches for their business at the in-person, socially distanced event in Portland. Chosen from a starting field in January of 44 was Literacy Tech Inc., the Lewiston-based creator of ReMo, a web-based tool that automates and manages student reading projects. The app is designed to help children read and learn more actively and to free educators from obsolete teaching tools.

The company was launched by Michelle DeBlois, a teacher at Lewiston Middle School, her sister Kathryn Lariviere, a teacher at Auburn Middle School, and developer Peter Jannet.

“ReMo makes reading attainable and teaching sustainable,” DeBlois said in her pitch to a three-member panel evaluating the nine finalists.

Literacy Tech will use the $25,000 prize to make improvements in its database and data analytics, while marketing the app for more schools, teachers and parents, she said. The company plans to launch commercially early next year.

Top Gun, organized by the Maine Center for Entrepreneurs, matches entrepreneurs with mentors and hosts learning sessions to help the companies make pivotal decisions. Ultimately, the startups develop specific pitches to potential customers, employees, partners and investors.

The Maine Technology Institute sponsors the prize, and other sponsors include University of Maine, the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, Focus Maine, the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, the Harold Alfond Institute for Business Innovation at Thomas College and Maine Center Ventures.

Over 240 startups have participated in Top Gun since its founding in 2009, making it the state’s largest business pitch-off competition.

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