June 6, 2018

North Spore wins $50K Gorham Savings' LaunchPad prize

Courtesy / Gorham Savings Bank
Courtesy / Gorham Savings Bank
North Spore won the $50,000 Gorham Savings Bank LaunchPad prize at a Tuesday event, beating four other finalists. Pictured here from left to right are: Judges Catherine Cloudman of Village Fertility and Chris Campbell of Pro-voke; North Spore's Matt McInnis, Eliah Thanhauser and Jon Carver; judge Chris Claudio of Winxnet; and Steve deCastro, president of Gorham Savings Bank.

North Spore, a Westbrook startup that cultivates and sells mushroom-growing kits, beat four other finalists to win the coveted $50,000 Gorham Savings Bank LaunchPad prize on Tuesday evening.

The winner was a returning finalist from 2017, and was chosen for the 2018 prize after a pitch competition on stage before a panel of independent judges — and a live audience — at the University of Southern Maine's Hannaford Hall in Portland.

"Tonight, Gorham Savings Bank was able to help another Maine business reach the next stage," Steve deCastro, president of Gorham Savings Bank, said in a news release. "The competition was so competitive that I could envision each finalist rising to the top. Our judges made a tough decision and we are thrilled for North Spore."

North Spore was founded in 2014 by Eliah Thanhauser, head of operations; Jon Carver, head mycologist; and Matt McInnis, head of marketing. It was part of a Mainebiz feature that looked at the surprising range of mushroom growers in the state.

The other finalists were:

  • American Roots, a family-run manufacturer that makes 100% American- and union-made customized apparel and whose founders Ben Waxman and Whitney Reynolds were 2017 Mainebiz Next honorees.
  • Bangs Island Mussels, a family-owned and operated sustainable aquaculture company.
  • Blue Ox Malthouse, a returning finalist from 2016, which turns raw grain from local farms into malt used by craft breweries to differentiate their products.
  • Wallace James Clothing Co., a Portland company that works with customers to design, develop and produce clothing, emphasizing education at each stage.

Gorham Savings Bank also honored one business in the Emerging Idea Award category.

That honor went to Cape Elizabeth-based NavigateER, a health care software platform designed to improve the patient experience by removing communication barriers so that patients can anticipate and understand their own care. The prize was $10,000 in cash and $10,000 in marketing, business development and public relations services from iBec Creative, Creative Imaging Group, Grove Marketing, Philbrook PR and Pro-voke Strategy and Culture.

Junior competition

There was also a LaunchPad Junior competition, thanks to Gorham Savings Bank's long-term partnership with Junior Achievement of Maine involving that organization's trademarked entrepreneurial education program known as JA It's my Business!

During Tuesday's intermission, a video pitch from each class was shown, and student representatives from each school were invited to answer several questions about their idea and what they learned through the program.

Gorham Savings Bank donated $1,000 to each school as a reward for their hard work.


Type your comment here:

Today's Poll Do you agree with Monday’s court ruling that Gov. LePage must now begin implementing the Medicaid expansion approved by voters last November?<>
Most Popular on Facebook