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May 27, 2021

The Cubby takes top prize in Maine's Top Gun awards

Courtesy / Josh Kim The Cubby's leadership team, from left: Matteo Cugno, Josh Kim, Anthony Speros, Olivia Wandres and Domenico Ottolia
Bread baker at work PHOTO / STACY CRAMP Heather Kerner, owner of the startup the Good Crust in Skowhegan, won the Michael Sheehan Memorial Award.

The Cubby, a Waterville startup that helps college students sell art work, won Maine Center for Entrepreneurs' Top Gun Showcase award on Wednesday night.

The award includes a $25,000 top prize. 

The Cubby is an online marketplace for art made by college students. By shopping on the Cubby, consumers support emerging artists and purchase one-of-a-kind pieces of art at an affordable price. The entire purchase price goes directly to the artist, with no hidden fees.

The Cubby's COO, Matteo Cugno, who just finished his junior year at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, accepted the Top Gun award on behalf of the startup. The Cubby is led by CEO Josh Kim, who just finished his junior year at Colby College.

Cugno was among eight entrepreneurs that competed in the statewide pitch contest.

“The broad range of companies and diversity of the entrepreneurs presenting at our 2021 Showcase demonstrates that the Maine entrepreneurial spirit is strong and thriving despite the turmoil of a pandemic. We are proud of each and every one in the Top Gun Class of 2021.” said Tom Rainey, executive director of the Maine Center for Entrepreneurs. 

The program is an initiative of Maine Center for Entrepreneurs along with partners the University of Maine, the Lewiston Auburn Economic Growth Council, and the Harold Alfond Institute for Business Innovation at Thomas College.

Judges were Patrick Arnold, co-founder and CEO of New England Ocean Cluster; Jay Friedlander, Sharpe-McNally Chair of Green and Socially Responsible Business at College of the Atlantic; and Beth Shissler, president and chief sustainability officer at Sea Bags LLC. 

The finalists were selected after competing in regional semi-final pitch events held virtually in Bangor, Lewiston/Auburn, Portland and Waterville. 

Participating entrepreneurs presented five-minute pitches to a panel of judges, followed by a brief question and answer period. Scoring was based on presentation, innovation, scalability and feasibility. 

Also cited this year was Heather Kerner of the Good Crust, a Skowhegan producer of frozen dough made from stone-milled Maine grain. She was awarded $5,000 from the annual Michael Sheehan Memorial Award, which was presented by the Portland law firm Preti Flaherty.  

Since 2009, the Top Gun program has assisted over 300 entrepreneurs in successfully growing their businesses through a combination of structured classroom curriculum and in-depth mentoring. The 15-week program began in January and after a series of regional pitching events, culminated in the final Showcase event with two finalists from each of the four regions pitching.

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