Sponsors of the Pitch Contest include the Maine Technology Institute; the Maine Community Foundation; Don Gooding; law firm Furman, Gregory, Deptula; the Small Enterprise Growth Fund (SEGF); business consulting firm J.R. Belair & Company; and an anonymous donor. Collaborating on the pitch session will be Jayme Okma Lee and John Burns of SEGF, who will help organize the pitch sessions. SEGF is a $13 million venture capital fund that invests exclusively in Maine companies that demonstrate a potential for high growth and public benefit.
The Pitch Contest will award $5,000 prize packages to the best company in each of five categories: Scalable Innovation, Sustainability, Main Street, Art, Culture & Design and Non-Profit. Prizes will include cash and professional services. The top company overall will be eligible for a $100,000 investment. The investment will be in the form of a convertible note, allowing investors to loan funds to the top company in exchange for interest and the right to convert the loan to shares in the company at a later date.
According Don Gooding, who has personally committed $25,000 to the contest, "As a member of the Maine Angels, I've invested in a few remarkably innovative Maine companies. And as the executive director of Maine Center for Enterprise Development (MCED), I now realize that these companies are springing up all over the state, which is why MCED is expanding the Top Gun entrepreneurship acceleration program statewide. The Juice Pitch Competition will be bringing these amazing entrepreneurs together, so that investors both in and outside the state can see that Maine's entrepreneurs are worth their attention, and their dollars."
"Creativity is a driver of the economy," said Donna McNeil of the Maine Arts Commission, a conference sponsor. "The creative economy is a broad spectrum and the cultural sector is a critical component. Film, music, design, textiles, gaming...these are all art & culture related industries and should be participating in the contest."
Interested entrepreneurs should register for the conference at www.juiceconference.org and contact Skip Bates for more information. Applications must be received by Oct. 15. Participants in the pitch session will have an opportunity to explain their business plan in a confidential setting, followed by additional rounds of competition and feedback. Reviewers will include Susan Snowden, Bangor Savings Bank; John Burns, SEGF; Don Gooding, MCED; and Christopher Speh, Maine Angels.