Five, diverse Maine business owners will pitch their products during a June livestream in the hopes of winning a $50,000 grant from Gorham Savings Bank.

Now in its eighth year, LaunchPad is Maine’s premier small business competition and a showcase for the state’s dynamic entrepreneurial community. After finalists deliver their pitches, a panel of three judges from the Maine businesses community will award the grand prize and two other awards.

Anyone can register online to watch these top entrepreneurs compete live online on Tuesday, Jun. 1 at 3:30 p.m.

According to the U.S. Small Business Association, Maine businesses with fewer than 100 employees actually contribute the largest share of jobs in the state. Access to capital is the largest challenge most new businesses will face. That’s why Gorham Savings Bank started LaunchPad, to help provide the resources Maine small businesses need to grow and reach the next level.

Nearly 150 small businesses applied for this year’s competition, adding to the lists of over 100 cities and towns and 25 industries that have been represented over the years.

In addition to the $50,000 LaunchPad Grant, Gorham Savings Bank will award two separate $10,000 prizes. One will go to one of five finalists for the Emerging Business Award and the other to one applicant out of the entire pool. Called the Business Agility Award, it is a special prize for this year to recognize outstanding perseverance and response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We saw a wonderfully diverse group of small businesses apply for LaunchPad this year, and we were impressed and energized by each of their stories,” said Gorham Savings Bank CEO Steve deCastro. “We are excited to honor one additional applicant who navigated some extreme business challenges this year with outstanding agility.”

Meet the 2021 LaunchPad Finalists

Brave Foods, founded by Cooper, Des, Alex and Ryan Fitzgerald, and David Gorvy in Portland. Brave Foods wants to change the way you start your day with a quick breakfast to give your body what it needs. Their products include whole plant-based foods, protein, fiber, and healthy fats to fuel your morning.

 

Studio e Flett Design, founded by Erin Flett in Gorham. Studio e Flett is a bold, colorful lifestyle brand with big ambitions. Erin Flett hand-draws and designs original prints and colors for hand-sewn pillows, bags, tabletop goods and even wallpaper. Flett wants to leave a design legacy that brings people joy forever.

 

HighByte, founded by Torey Penrod-Cambra, Tony Paine and John Harrington in Portland. HighByte is a first mover in the Industrial DataOps software category, disrupting the global manufacturing tech market by 1.) creating a new approach to data integration and security and 2.) improving data quality and reducing time spent preparing data for use throughout the enterprise.

 

Hüga Heat, founded by Jocelyn Olsen and Colin Greig in Southport. Created just last fall to extend outdoor socializing time, Hüga Heat provides up to 8 hours of steady, comfy heat for your seat. Hüga brings people together outdoors to enjoy nature, friends and family throughout the year by warming your core from the bottom up. Photo by Zack Bowen.

 

Vintage Maine Kitchen, founded by Kelly and Scott Brodeur in Freeport. Vintage Maine Kitchen, a returning LaunchPad finalist from 2019, makes locally sourced, super thin and crispy potato chips that will bring back childhood memories with flavors like Maine Maple, Cookout and Thankful, inspired by herbs in Mom’s Thanksgiving stuffing.

The 2021 LaunchPad Emerging Business Award finalists are blueShift AerospaceC. Love Cookie Project, Marin SkincarePrapela, and The Cubby.  The winner will also receive $10,000 worth of in-kind business and marketing services from Creative Imaging GroupGrove MarketingiBec CreativePhilbrook PR and pro-voke.