Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

Updated: January 19, 2022

Top Gun names 24 Maine startups for 2022 accelerator program

Picture of packages of Maine Salt Farm salt, including one held in two hands. Courtesy / Maine Salt Farm Participants in the 2022 Top Gun class include Maine Salt Farm, which has been producing solar-evaporated Maine sea salt since 2015.

Out of 34 Maine startups that applied to participate in the 2022 Top Gun accelerator program, 24 have been selected to help take their businesses to the next level, the Maine Center for Entrepreneurs has announced.

Participants hail from Bangor, the Lewiston-Auburn region, Portland and Waterville and represent a variety of sectors from snowmobile technology to salt farming. 

Organizers aim to kick off the program virtually on Jan. 26 with a so-called "Mentor Swarm" and a first learning session on Feb. 2, with the goal of having as many sessions in-person as possible.

"While I am just getting to know this class, I think what shines through with this and every Top Gun class I have had the pleasure of working with is the amazing work ethic and positivity I see from these founders," Laurie Johnson, Top Gun's program manager, told Mainebiz after Monday's announcement. 

"No matter the industry, whether they are offering a product or service, there is a common thread to not only want to build a better business, but to build a better world around them in both small and large ways."

This year's participants include SledTRX, an app developed by Thomas College student Jake Warn that guides snowmobilers to Maine trails along with gas stations, lodgings, restaurants and sled shops. Another member of this year's Top Gun class is Maine Salt Farm, a producer of solar-evaporated sea salt since 2015.

"It is an honor to be chosen to participate in Top Gun, and we look forward to learning from knowledgeable mentors and gaining from their experience to strengthen and grow the foundation of our business," said Chris Cary, a partner in Maine Salt Farm who also serves as chief operating and marketing officer for the New England Ocean Cluster, based at the Hus on Portland's waterfront.

Along a similar note, Warn said, "I'm super excited to be part of Top Gun, as I know they will be a great learning resource and connection to have as I continue to build SledTRX."

Before Top Gun begins in early February, each business will be matched with a mentor. Top Gun is an annual program that combines mentoring with weekly learning sessions, providing hands-on training and group learning exercises taught by experts in various aspects of business development.

The program is sponsored statewide by Bangor Savings Bank and supported by the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development and partner organizations, with further support from local businesses, corporate and nonprofit entities and dozens of volunteer advisors and mentors around the state.

Additionally, Maine Technology Institute has provided a $25,000 cash prize to be awarded at a final statewide pitch-off to be held in May.

Beginning with just a dozen entrepreneurs in Portland in 2009, Top Gun has helped more than 200 entrepreneurs across the state accelerate their businesses. 

The Maine Center for Entrepreneurs, led by Executive Director Tom Rainey, was established in 1997 to build and lead a community of growth-minded Maine businesses via training, connections, coaching and mentors. 

2022 Top Gun class participants 

Bangor (three companies)
Move Free (Patrick Caron)
Timberwolves BBQ (Michael Stiggle)
Real Time Reality (Ty Delargy)

Lewiston/Auburn (five companies)
All Speed Tech Education (Elizabeth Pajak)  
Teach2Move (Malik Hall, Katrina Hall, Jamier Hall) 
The Maine Event Brew Tours & Shuttle (Diana DeJesus)
Black Diamond Detailing (Abdirahman Saeed, Abdinur Mohamed)
Deals Everywhere (Nicholas Danforth)

Portland (11 companies)
F3 Defense (Michael Mercer)  
NKENNE (Michael Odokara)
FINSULATE by Ocean Innov LLC (Bernard Hidier)            
Northern Spent Grains (Toby Ahrens)
Frodopay (Gavin William Kerr)
Rugged Seas (Nikki Strout)
Maine Salt Farm (Chris Rauscher, Chris Cary)
Soul Being (Colleen Kavanagh)
Mallard Enterprises (Daniel Peabody-Harrington)
Viable Gear (Katie Weller)
Nauti Sisters Sea Farm (Alicia Gaiero)

Waterville (five companies) 
Bijou Build (Amanda Lacy)                                              
Food Truck Fixer (Erin Baltes)
Ciccarelli's Market, Deli & Gelato (Michelangelo Ciccarelli)
Platypus (Chelsea Maude Avirett)
SledTRX (Jake Warn)

Sign up for Enews

Related Content


Order a PDF