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May 25, 2018

Portland startup wins $25K prize in Thursday's Top Gun Showcase finals

Photo / Claudia Dricot
Photo / Claudia Dricot
Tom Rainey, executive director of Maine Center for Entrepreneurs, left, is joined by Brian Whitney, president of Maine Technology Institute, in presenting the $25,000 cash prize for the 2018 Top Gun Showcase to the winner, Erica Schmitz, founder of the Portland startup MyBodyModel.

About Maine Center for Entrepreneurs

The Maine Center for Entrepreneurs provides the Top Gun program, an intensive 15-week entrepreneurial training program, as a virtual business incubator for Maine startups. The annual program is designed for competitively selected entrepreneurs that combine mentoring with high-impact weekly gatherings held in Portland, Orono, Brunswick and the Lewiston/Auburn region. Beginning with just a dozen entrepreneurs in Portland in 2009, Top Gun has now helped more than 200 entrepreneurs across the state start their businesses.

Erica Schmitz, founder of the Portland startup MyBodyModel, is the winner of the $25,000 cash prize awarded Thursday night at the Top Gun Showcase finals held at the University of Southern Maine's Hannaford Hall.

Top Gun is the annual program for competitively selected entrepreneurs sponsored by the Maine Center for Entrepreneurs and its partners, the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and the University of Maine. The $25,000 cash prize is sponsored by the Maine Technology Institute.

MyBodyModel was one of eight participants from the Bangor, Brunswick, Lewiston/Auburn and Portland Top Gun classes that were the first- and second-place finishers from their respectie regional pitch-off events. Entrepreneurs presented five-minute pitches to a panel of judges and 175 enthusiastic supporters in the audience, which was followed by a brief question-and-answer period.

Scoring was based on presentation, innovation, scalability and feasibility.

On a Kickstarter webpage, Schmitz said her company is creating a MyBodyModel web app that will make fashion-sketching templates (also called "croquis") that are unique to the user's body measurements.

"What an experience!" Schmitz said in a news release. "The Top Gun program helped me connect with an incredible team of mentors that I would not have met otherwise — at least, not within such a concentrated period of time. As a new entrepreneur, to be able to tap into such a wealth of experience was incredible."

Schmitz said it was inspiring to connect with her Top Gun peers as well as alumni of the program, adding that she is looking forward to continuing those relationships as she builds her startup company in the months ahead.

Other finalists for this year's grand prize were:

  • Bangor: Radhakrishnan Jamadagni, Ai Steth; Rebeckah Perry, Queen City Arts.
  • Brunswick: Matthew Moretti, Bangs Island Mussels; Jonathan Turcotte, Glidden Point Oyster Co.
  • Lewiston/Auburn: Michele Gilfoil, Planet Botanicals; Stacy Moore, Healing Harbors.
  • Portland: Meghan Carey, co-amplify.

Read more

Top Gun names finalists who’ll compete for $25K prize

Bootstrapping 101: Financing a startup is about more than just money

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