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May 7, 2018

Seven Maine food companies selected for 'Cultivator' accelerator program

Photo / Tim Greenway Aron Gonsavles, operations manager, and Emily Sharood, sales and marketing manager, harvest cinnamon cap mushrooms at Mousam Valley Mushrooms in Springvale. The family-owned cultivator of organic mushrooms was selected by Maine Center for Entrepreneurs and its sponsor FocusMaine as one of seven Maine companies to participate in the 2018-19 Cultivator Food, Beverage and Agriculture Accelerator program.

The Maine Center for Entrepreneurs and its sponsor FocusMaine selected seven Maine companies to participate in the 2018-19 Cultivator Food, Beverage and Agriculture Accelerator program.

Selected companies are:

  • Belle Cove LLC, a South Portland-based seller of value-added, high-quality seafood.
  • Black Dinah Chocolatiers, a maker of hand-crafted chocolates based in Westbrook.
  • Crown O’Maine Organic Cooperative, a North Vassalboro-based seller of wide selection of Maine grown foods including fruits and vegetables, grains, dry beans, honey, maple syrup, tofu, tempeh, value-added products, natural and organic meats, cheese, and fermented foods.
  • Mousam Valley Mushrooms, a family-owned cultivator of organic mushrooms based in Springvale.
  • North Spore, a Westbrook company that cultivates mushrooms and spawn for other commercial growers.
  • Two Fat Cats Bakery, a Portland bakery “committed to the honesty and legacy of scratch baking with an emphasis on American desserts and pies” that recently opened its second bakery in South Portland.
  • Vena’s Fizz House, a bar and mixology shop in Portland specializing in old-fashioned, all-natural fizz sodas, “mocktails” and custom cocktails.

Maine Center for Entrepreneurs' Cultivator will support the growth of these companies over the next 12 months by providing hands-on strategic assessments and planning sessions, tailored professional resources, and interactive business forums focused on overcoming the specific strategic challenges they face as they attempt to grow and scale.

“We have selected a strong group of companies who are hungry for development and growth. I’m honored to have the privilege of working with them to take their business to the next level,” said Sue Hanson, Cultivator program manager.

The program kicked off on April 23 where selected companies sampled their products and were introduced to members of the Cultivator support network, including representatives from Maine Center for Entrepreneurs, FocusMaine, Verrill Dana, Norway Savings Bank and Coastal Enterprises, Inc.

In addition to FocusMaine, Maine Center for Entrepreneurs and the Maine Mentor Network, the Cultivator program is also directly backed by a Council of Advisors with years of expertise and connections in the food industry who will serve as ambassadors supporting the Cultivator program and the growth of Maine’s food economy.

Cultivator Council of Advisors include:

  • Steve Culver, Two Lights Group, formerly of Hannaford
  • Taja Dockendorf, Pulp + Wire
  • Mark Dvorozniak, Marketing Strategy Decisions, formerly of Barber Foods
  • Darrell Pardy, Thos. Moser, formerly of Bristol Seafoods
  • Tony Perkins, Bernstein Shur
  • Meghan Stasz, Grocery Manufacturers Assoc.
  • Tom Rainey, Maine Center for Entrepreneurs executive director.

“We continue to build our bench strength of food industry and business experts in the Cultivator network. This will be a key factor in aiding current and future Cultivator companies to reach their full growth potential,” said Hanson.

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