GORHAM, Maine — Gorham Savings Bank has launched a business idea competition with $30,000 up for grabs.
The business competition, dubbed LaunchPad, is open to existing Maine business owners or entrepreneurs with a new idea.
The bank created LaunchPad with one goal in mind, according to its newly launched website: “To recognize a viable business idea that has potential to benefit the Maine economy.” It defines “benefit” as contributing new jobs, new products or services, increasing exports or cost-saving efficiencies.
“One of the biggest barriers for entrepreneurs can be the lack of capital. LaunchPad was created to not only celebrate great ideas, but to help provide needed funds to bring great ideas to fruition,” Chris Emmons, president of Gorham Savings Bank, said in a statement. “As a local business with a strong commitment to help small businesses, we are excited to be able to provide this opportunity for existing business owners and up-and-coming entrepreneurs in Maine.”
The application process is fairly simple. It includes four questions — about the business idea, what market it would target, how it would affect Maine’s economy and how the money would be spent. The simplicity was by design, so that students and seasoned business professionals all have an opportunity to participate, according to Katie Bellerose, a spokeswoman for the bank.
The bank began accepting applications on Monday, Jan. 7. The submission period will end on Feb. 25, after which an independent panel of yet-to-be-named judges will select 10 semifinalists.
The semifinalists will then compete in a live pitching event on March 21.
The competitors each will be given five minutes to pitch their business ideas to a panel of three final judges who will select three finalists, whose videos will be posted on the bank’s website. The public will cast votes to select the winner, who will receive the $30,000.
“We wanted to have an event around it,” Bellerose said, “something to congregate people and generate excitement about this.”
The $30,000 comes with no strings attached, Bellerose said.
Johann Sabbath, an entrepreneur and founder of Startup Portland, a local group dedicated to promoting Portland’s entrepreneurial community, said the competition will give entrepreneurs an opportunity to get past the big picture and zero in on how their business would integrate into the local economy.
“Trying to be lean and scalable is often top of mind for startups,” Sabbath said. “I think this opportunity challenges startups to consider what value they could contribute to the state and the local community.”
It also will “challenge entrepreneurs to consider business opportunities that are right in our backyard,” he said.
For more information, or to submit a business idea for the competition, visit the LaunchPad website.