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Three Rural Maine Businesses Succeeding Because of Broadband Internet

Sean DeWitt and Our Katahdin

John Hafford of DesignLab, Rick Levasseur of 5 Lakes Lodge, and Sean DeWitt of Our Katahdin addressed a group of State Legislators, including myself, back in January. During lunch in a pine paneled room at the Northern Timber Cruisers snowmobile club in Millinocket – at an event curated by the Maine Development Foundation – they made a good case for rural broadband expansion, and maybe made fun of each other a little bit too. In a nice way.

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Maine Technology Institute’s Tech Walk

I walked into MTI’s Tech Walk with the ol’ Zoom H4N at the ready and conducted some on the spot interviews. It was fun to do, and I met some powerful entrepreneurs created success statewide. In this episode I also put in a plug for a Biddeford based pitch contest called Pitch York County, which I hope you’ll participate in.

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St. Germain Collins and Sentry EHS on the Launchpad!

Sentry EHS

In my third of five episodes presenting pitches from last year’s Gorham Savings Bank, I present Patrick Coughlin of St. Germain Collins and their new Sentry EHS software.

Sentry EHS works well for any business that needs an experienced partner to help them comply with environmental, health and safety regulations. They specialize in helping energy providers (read: gas stations), solid waste/recycling firms, manufacturing facilities and higher education campuses with compliance.

I thought this was a somewhat unusual pitch in that it comes from a well established environmental engineering company, rather than a startup. (I’ve done business with them myself for inspections at a building I own). But they’ve stayed entrepreneurial, and I applaud St. Germain Collins for recognizing an opportunity taking their business in this new direction, which is clearly paying off.

So: even though they did not win, the pitch is strong, and I’m happy to report that the company is growing fast and has hired three new staff members since June 2015. Even more impressive (and removed from this edit to save you the painful audio) was the sound problems that Pat faced once he hit the stage – they didn’t bring his mic up when he started speaking, leading to an awkward moment. Not his fault, but he remained cool and calm and still delivered his pitch well. And as I state in my introductory comments, I believe just going through process of delivering a pitch is a great benefit.

Please go ahead and subscribe because next week I have Beach Glass Transitions, as well as cameos from celebrity guests Pika Energy and Bixby Bar. Cheers!

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Jon Gosier, TED Fellow and ODX Leader

It’s so refreshing to hear from Jon Gosier, TED fellow, tech entrepreneur and keynoter at Maine Startup & Create Week.  He’s a very amusing, engaging Philadelphia-based entrepreneur, and we have Jess Knox and the MSCW team to thank for bringing him to town.

Also: for the first time, the Grow Maine Show has a sponsor.  It’s called Hellocycle, and it’s actually my company.  It’s a subscription by mail recycling service.   If you’ve ever thrown a battery in the trash and wondered if it was the right thing to do, or spent time doing errands to return a burnt out twisty-light-bulb to the hardware store, you need us.  I’m looking  for 25 beta testers to try the service out for free, using offer code Hello.  Would you consider signing up?

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Dan Kerluke of Double Blue Sports Analytics

Dan Kerluke is the Co-Founder and CEO of Bangor, Maine based Double Blue Sports Analytics.  He is a former pro hockey player and UMaine hockey coach who recognized a need for easier ‘moneyball’ type statistics tracking in hockey.  Download and try a free demo of the 360 Save Review System for your iPad from the App Store!  (And give it a 5-star review).

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Startups in Maine – The MTI Tech Walk in Bangor

At the Maine Technology Institute Tech Walk:  Victor Hwang of T2 Venture Capital and author of The Rainforest was the keynoter.

It was definitely a day of biotech, genetics research and, laboratory management software.  Quite remarkable, really.  First I spoke to Janet Yancey-Wrona of Bar Harbor Biotechnologies.  Janet was the founding director and president of MTI from 1999-2005, during the time I was founding CorrectDeck.  So it was good to see her.

Then I tech-walked over to see Kat Taylor of Genotyping Center of America.  A year ago when I met GTCA in Top Gun, these guys were all working their day jobs and getting this startup off the ground.   A year late, they’ve made remarkable progress.

I also ran into Jeff Marks of E2 Tech, which stands for Environmental & Energy Technology Council of Maine, e2tech.org.  I plan to attend their recycling forum Oct. 16.

Then I rock stepped over to re-record Abigail Ames, Director of Technology at Rock Step Solutions, maker of lab management software that works across multiple devices.



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Susan MacKay: Give me a cutting edge technology and a risky market

…if the idea is innovative enough, risky enough, novel enough, and has the potential to impact an entire market, then Dr. Susan MacKay of Cerahelix is ready to take it on!

Susan is founder and CEO of Cerahelix Corp. of Orono, Maine.  The company has developed and commercialized a ceramic membrane technology that provides high purity filtration under harsh conditions.

Sounds like a typical Maine high-tech business to me.  Making holes in ceramic with DNA.  Not.  But this isn’t even Susan’s first ‘big bet’ in high tech materials, and she and her team have the technical background to make this happen.

Susan was previously CEO of Zeomatrix, another materials-based startup. She has more than 20 years’ experience in materials research and characterization, including 6 years in corporate R&D at 3M Corporation. She was a member of the inaugural MCED “Top Gun” class in 2009, and a Mass Challenge finalist in 2011. Susan holds a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill and was named a “Woman to Watch” by Mass High Tech in 2011.


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#25: Amber Lambke of Maine Grains

Amber Lambke of Maine Grains

Amber is president of Somerset Grains LLC and its Maine Grains label, carried by specialty food stores and used by fine restaurants and bakeries throughout the Northeast. She is also executive director of the Maine Grain Alliance. A driving force behind Maine’s sustainable foods movement, Amber has worked with local business leaders and community members to successfully bring the cultivation and processing of heritage grains back to Skowhegan, Maine. Her efforts through the Maine Grain Alliance have generated a broader understanding and appreciation of the nutritional and economic value of heritage grains and oats, as well as their exceptional flavor. The alliance’s Kneading Conference, co-founded by Amber, now draws thousands of attendees from throughout North America each year.

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A Live Recording of Gorham Savings Bank’s $30,000 #GSBLaunchpad Pitch Contest

#GSBLaunchpad Contestants

This week I have something really different – a live, unedited recording of Gorham Savings Bank’s Launchpad event that took place on April 10th.  Five entrepreneurs, chosen from 130 submissions, 7 minutes to pitch, no slides, win or go home, $30,000 on the line.  Talk about excitement!

If you want your own piece of the entrepreneurial action, be sure to get involved with Maine Startup and Create Week, coming June 12-20 in venues all around Portland.

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