550+ participantsLaunchPad gets bigger and better every year. More applicants, more media attention, bigger prizes. What started small has become Maine’s premier showcase for small businesses and the state’s entrepreneurial economy. The 2017 LaunchPad season promises to be the most dynamic yet.
100+ cities and townsThe Maine economy is truly that: “Maine’s economy.” Maine’s biggest cities and smallest communities are well represented, proving that the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well, all over our state.
25+ industriesFrom fashion to fish, and from green energy to gourmet candy, LaunchPad competitors represent a wide range of business types across a huge spectrum of industries. All that matters is that you have a business, or even a well-thought-out business idea, that’s worthy of immediate and impactful support.
Fluid Farms, which grows greens and freshwater fish in Maine’s only MOFGA-certified organic aquaponics greenhouse, was named the 2016 LaunchPad winner on June 7 by an independent panel of judges including WEX President & CEO Melissa Smith; Winxnet CEO and Co-founder Chris Claudio; and SMCC’s Entrepreneurial Center Director Michelle Neujhar. Co-Founder Tyler Gaudet planned to invest the $50,000 grant in a more energy-efficient heating system that would help Fluid Farms better meet the needs of major distributors.
Peaks Island, ME
Gorham Savings Bank announced FlowFold as its third LaunchPad winner after a live, high-energy competition on June 18. Based on Peaks Island, FlowFold designs and produces wallets, totes and everyday gear that’s 100% Maine-made using some of the world’s strongest materials. The company’s mission is to build quality products, deliver a great experience and support the local workforce. The LaunchPad grant enabled FlowFold to purchase new equipment to scale production for a growing roster of national accounts, including L.L.Bean.
After a dynamic presentation to our panel of judges at the live April 10 LaunchPad event, Kate McAleer, founder of Bixby & Co., took home the 2014 Grand Prize of $30,000 for her company, Bixby & Co., which makes organic chocolates blended with dried fruits, nuts, organic brown rice crisps and selected spices. Bixby used the $30,000 to make capital investments in equipment to prepare for the company’s national launch. The award helped improve the quality, speed and consistency of its manufacturing process.
Pika Energy, announced as the first LaunchPad winner on March 21, was founded by MIT engineers in 2010 to help families cut their home electric bills and reduce their environmental impact. The company designs, builds and tests affordable, high-quality personal wind turbines—and does it all right here in Maine. Pika’s founders had previously designed a leading home wind turbine system called SkyStream; at Pika, they developed cost and performance innovations that cut total costs in half and improved the system’s overall flexibility and ease of ownership.