Eight Maine businesses were honored Thursday by the local chapter of SCORE, a national nonprofit organization that connects entrepreneurs with mentors and counseling to help grow their businesses.
The organization, which is funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The Portland chapter is one of six in Maine, and one of 320 in the country.
The other Maine chapters are located in Bangor, Ellsworth, Augusta, Lewiston and South Paris. Together, they have a network of more than 130 mentors who in 2013 volunteered more than 13,000 hours of time to offer guidance and expertise to entrepreneurs that want to launch or grow a business.
Nancy Strojny, chair of the Portland chapter, said mentorship is one of the most important resources an entrepreneur can have access to. Speaking at a luncheon celebrating its milestone during the Maine Startup and Create Week, she quoted David Kappos, a well-known intellectual property attorney in New York City, who spoke to the Portland Press Herald in April:
“Probably the most important thing I learned,” Kappos said at the time, “is that the hardest part of innovation is neither having a good idea, nor access to capital. Neither is it access to natural resources nor manufacturing skills. It turns out the biggest impediment to taking a good idea and making it into a marketplace outcome – the biggest, rare, scarce resource – is mentorship.”
The businesses cited were:
• Ready Seafood Co. won the SCORE Success Award. Brendan and John Ready launched their wholesale lobster business in 2004 and with the help of mentors from SCORE have grown that business to a point where it now employs roughly 100 people shipping fresh and frozen lobster all over the country.
• Dan Mingle, founder of Mingle Analytics, a health care information technology company in South Paris, won the award for an encore entrepreneur over the age of 50. Before he launched his health care information company in 2012, Mingle was a family-practice physician.
• Louis Waterhouse, founder of L.A.W. Calibration in Biddeford, won the Successful Veteran-Owned Small Business award. The company, which provides precise calibration services, has landed Cianbro and Tempus Jets in Brunswick as clients.
• Pamela Laskey, founder of Maine Foodie Tours, won the Successful Woman-Owned Business award. Laskey has grown her tour business to include 43 local food-based businesses into three tours in Portland, Kennebunk and Bar Harbor.
• Tyler Frank, founder of Garbage to Garden, won the award for Successful Green Business award. Garbage to Garden provides curbside pickup of household food waste and composts for use by local farms. Strojny also announced that Garbage to Garden will be one of 12 businesses recognized in August at a national SCORE event in Washington, D.C., which Michelle Obama will attend.
• Charles Friedman, the 25-year-old founder of Flow Fold, a company on Peaks Island that manufactures wallets out of recycled high-tech sailing fabric, won the Young Entrepreneur award.
• Margo Walsh, founder of MaineWorks, won the Innovative Small Business award. MaineWorks, which is a temporary employment agency that focuses on returning veterans, people in recovery and recently released non-violent prisoners, posted more than $1 million in revenue in 2013 and expects to double that this year.
• Scott Fleurant, founder of Impact Fitness Center in Biddeford, won the Successful Funding from Business Plan Execution award.
Bob Martin, president of the Maine Technology Institute, which has $110 million invested in Maine businesses, thanked SCORE for the service it provides.
“We know the work you do is pivotal to our enterprises, and we thank you for that,” Martin said.