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April 26, 2024

Startup starter kit: Central Maine business-pitch contest calendar fills up

Group Photo / Courtesy of Dirigo Labs Dirigo Labs in Waterville will host a business-pitch competition on May 22, one of five business-pitch contests in the region this spring. Shown here is the 2023 cohort at last year's pitch contest.

Five central Maine organizations are banding together to support local entrepreneurs and encourage innovation through a series of business-pitch contests this spring.

The groups — Dirigo Labs, Main Street Skowhegan, Colby College, Thomas College and Kennebec Valley Community College — are touting the events as a platform for founders to showcase their ideas and receive valuable feedback and funding.

“We’re setting the stage for Maine’s most creative minds to shine,” said Susan Ruhlin, managing director of Dirigo Labs and a Mainebiz Woman to Watch honoree in 2023. “It’s not just about winning; it’s about celebrating entrepreneurship, fostering ideation and showing off our incredible founders."

For Kennebec Valley Community College in Fairfield, the initiative offers an opportunity to showcase the talents of those participating in its free business entrepreneurship program launched this year.

“Our training was designed to support unemployed and underemployed workers in Maine who have the entrepreneurial spirit but hit some barriers starting a business," said Joe Musumeci, the school's director of workforce training and professional development. 

“Working with the other entrepreneurship programs in Central Maine and across the state has been incredibly beneficial and helped us fit our program in to offer the most support and accessibility.” 

Colby College will kick off the series on Thursday, May 2, with the inaugural Halloran Lab 40K Venture Showcase, in which entrepreneurs will compete for a $25,000 first-place grant and $40,000 in overall funding. 

"We're thrilled to offer hardworking and visionary students a stage, exposure, feedback and funding to propel their ideas to new heights,” said Jeremy Barron, director of the Halloran Lab for Entrepreneurship. “We're proud of the work they've accomplished in just a few months and eager to share their progress with the rest of campus and the entrepreneurial ecosystem at large." 

Event lineup and registration links

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