Dylan Veilleux Wins $250 Cash Prize with "The Tea Pillow"!
75 people gathered on Tuesday evening to network, eat yummy appetizers, sip delicious wine, and listen to two business pitches at Tiller & Rye in Brewer!
Kasey Smith pitched her company, Eternav, which brings together all the elements needed to assemble a funeral, with or without a funeral home. Dylan Veilleux pitched his business idea, The Tea Pillow, a head pillow that relieves and calms the mind using tea leaves.
After some great feedback from our Big Wig judges, Peter Geaghan, Bev Uhlenhake, & James Gallagher, the audience voted for their favorite, and Dylan Veilleux was crowned the winner in one of the tightest votes in Big Gig history! We were also lucky enough to have Susan MacKay, CEO of Cerahelix, speak about her experience running a membrane filtration start-up and respond to Q&A from the audience. Thanks to all attended, and see you next time at November's Big Gig!
Finale a Success; Folks Network; Ethan Poissonnier Wins $1,500!
The Finale of Big Gig's 2015-2016 season was held April 13th at UMaine's Foster Center for Student Innovation. It was a fun, exciting event! Our guest Big Rig, Alex Gray (see below), presented some great tips on pitching and gave insightful responses to the audience questions about his Waterfront Concerts business.
The accompanying photo illustrates the primary goal of Big Gig: to create a local network of innovators and entrepreneurs. Shown prior to the Finale pitch-off, from left to right, are: Stephen Wong (Dad's Approval; December, 2015, pitch-off winner); Cathy Billings (Lobster Rx; October, 2015, winner); Salome Perez (Sal.Operations; December, 2015, runner-up); and Ethan Poissonnier (The Amp Lab; February, 2016, winner).
The vote counts from the audience for the three pitch-off finalists were very close, but Ethan Poissonnier walked away with the $1,500 prize check from University Credit Union!
Big Rig Announced for April 13th Finale!
Alex Gray is a concert and music festival promoter well-known in New England for Bangor’s successful Waterfront Concert Series. He has brought an impressive series of nationally-renowned musical acts to Maine, with concerts in a variety of popular genres: country; rock & roll; adult contemporary. The Bangor Daily News reported that more than half of the large crowds at these concerts have been coming from outside our local region.
Alex created the Waterfront Series in 2010 after having previously established a working relationship with Live Nation New England. Before that, he owned the Ushuaia dance club in Orono and Russel’s entertainment complex in Bangor. In his career, he has hosted hundreds of concerts at nightclubs, halls, auditoriums, fair grounds, and public parks throughout Maine.
Born and raised in eastern Maine, Alex attended the University of Maine, obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Engineering. Long before that, however, he had an entrepreneurial spirit and started several endeavors, most of which were connected to music, his long-time love and passion.
For his upcoming Big Rig presentation, Alex said he might point out how a good way to think about pitching a business idea is to compare it with going on a first date. Regardless, it should be interesting!
(l-r) Matt James & Brian Rahill
Ethan Poissonnier Wins $250 Prize with Pitch for Car-Audio Battery!
The 90 folks packed into Husson's Dyke Center for Family Business on February 10th voted Ethan Poissonnier's presentation their favorite in the pitch-off. He and Troy Dionne, a business partner at The Amp Lab, have developed a prototype of a small, but powerful, lithium battery for the car-audio market. Ethan described their product and made a pitch for funds to help manufacture and market an initial batch of 20 batteries. In the photo, Ethan is shown accepting the $250 prize check from the event emcee, Nancy Forster-Holt.
Big Rig Pair Announced for Feb. 10th Big Gig!
Brian Rahill is CEO of RainStorm, Inc., a website and application development firm located in Downtown Orono. Since being founded as a search marketing firm by Brian in 1999, RainStorm has grown quickly and consistently to provide web design, hosting, and software services and today serves more than 400 hosting and development clients in the educational, nonprofit, and small business sectors.
Brian and Matt James also co-founded CourseStorm, a startup company which provides Impossibly Simple online class registration for non-traditional educational organizations in 11 states.
Matt is the Head of Product for CourseStorm and is a 2005 graduate of the University of Maine New Media program.
At the February Big Gig, Brian and Matt will present and discuss an example of their pitch for CourseStorm.
Stephen Wong Wins $250 Prize at December 9th Pitch-Off!
The competition was tight at the Old Town pitch-off, but the audience ultimately voted Stephen Wong's presentation their favorite. Stephen's pitch was for his start-up, Dad's Approval, a YouTube channel with video-game reviews and play-session recordings that aim to provide families with entertainment and help them select suitable games for a given child. In the photo, Stephen is shown on the right, being congratulated by the event emcee, Evan Richert.
Big Rig (Keynote Pitcher) Announced for Dec. 9th Big Gig!
Heidi Neal purchased the surviving, single-location Loyal Biscuit Co. in Rockland in January of 2010 and has since turned it into a thriving, four-location business, with locations in Rockland, Camden, Belfast and Waterville, Maine. In addition, she has added two other companies to support the mission of her retail business: Loyal Biscuit Tug ME Toy and Fidelis Biscuit Co.
Both of these additional companies contribute to the Loyal Biscuit mission of healthy treats and durable, locally made toys. The products are sold not only at the Loyal Biscuit but also in many pet and specialty stores throughout the country.
Loyal Biscuit has been named the 2015 Best Pet Supply Store in the country by Pet Business Monthly. In addition, Heidi was recently named the Maine Small Business Person of the Year for 2015.
Heidi is a born-and-raised resident of Rockland and a graduate of Thomas College in Waterville. She is also a recent graduate of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program at Babson College. Heidi resides in Rockland with her husband Joel, their three dogs and two cats.
Cathy Billings Wins $250 Prize at October 21 Pitch-Off!
The audience of about 70 voted Cathy's pitch their favorite. During the evening's networking, she got a lot of attention for her lobster-based, anti-viral skin cream from economic-development folks! In the photo below, UCU's Amy Irish (on left) is shown presenting the $250 check to Cathy. Also shown are two of Cathy's colleague's at Lobster Unlimited, LLC: Matthew Hodgkin (middle) and Bob Bayer (right).
Todd O'Brien, DPM
Keynote Pitcher ("Big Rig") to be Featured at Oct. 21st Big Gig!
Dr. O’Brien’s 25 years as a surgeon/inventor serves as the foundation for his medical products, several of which currently are being marketed in North America and Europe.
Since founding O’Brien Medical, LLC, he has divided his time between running a podiatry practice and developing medical products. He has successfully licensed six surgical products and holds six issued patents.
In addition to several articles in peer-reviewed medical journals, his writing credits include a chapter in a surgical text and a book on entrepreneurship for inventors. He also is a 2012 graduate of the Top Gun entrepreneurship acceleration program.
We are pleased that this Orono resident will be giving those of us attending the Big Gig an example of a concise pitch for one of his entrepreneurial endeavors, followed by a brief discussion of how he developed the pitch to be effective. (More Big Rig details here.)
Big Gig Participants Well Represented among 26 Semifinalists Vying for $100,000 Prize in Greenlight Maine Pitch Competition
Of the 26 Greenlight semifinalists from the state of Maine, four previously had pitched at a Big Gig event and another four were Big Gig attendees who founded companies in Orono.
Of special note, one Greenlight semifinalist, Jessica Jewell, is Co-Founder and COO of Northern Maine Distilling Company and won the Grand Prize at the Big Gig 2013-2014 Finale.
Another Greenlight semifinalist, Emma Wilson, is President of Zeomatrix in Orono and pitched in the following year's Big Gig 2014-2015 Finale.
Illustrating the productive relationship between the University of Maine and entrepreneurial activity in our community, a full four of the Greenlight semifinalists have their companies located at UMaine's Target Technology Incubator: Emma Wilson of Zeomatrix; Chuck Carter, founder of Eagre Games and Big Gig pitcher during the 2013-2014 season; Susan MacKay, founder of Cerahelix; and Dan Kerluke, founder of Double Blue Sports Analytics.