Central Maine college students presented business pitches to judges from the television show Greenlight Maine on Saturday. Representative from Colby and Thomas colleges combined to pitch 12 companies in hopes for a spot on the EMMY-nominated show’s Collegiate Challenge in the spring of 2021.
In all, 18 companies led by college students from across the state were given 12 minutes to pitch to judges Patric Santerre, owner of ARCADIA designworks; Janine Bisaillon-Cary, president of the Montserrat Group; and Tom Morgan, outsourced vice president of sales at Breakthrough Solutions.
The judges evaluated nine companies run by Colby students and three from Thomas students. The contest was part of Thomas College’s fourth annual Converge and Create Weekend titled “The Art of the Startup.”
COLBY COLLEGE STUDENTS
An online platform, Algee, allows small businesses to submit a challenge to a university for students to solve. In return, Algee works with businesses to provide a prize for completing a one-time task for the business. Presenter Max Siegman said Waterville-based businesses including restaurants Opa and Selah Tea have already signed on to the program which launches in coming weeks.
“Algee is an incredible way for schools to make good on their promises to engage in the communities,” Siegman said.
Launching in March, Nucifera Soul is an online marketplace focused on sustainability that already launched select products on third-party marketplaces on other platforms.
“We are not trying to do an Amazon model. It is more of product listing and at the same time educating the public on sustainable products,” said Justin Soh, who was presenting at 3 a.m. from Singapore.
In 2018, Brooks Gammill launched Grill Guys LLC, a seasonal grill steam cleaning service. Started in Fairfield County, Conn., Grill Guys is currently in four towns and expanding. They also have an apparel and spice line.
“This is kind of an emerging niche business,” said Gammill, a Colby men’s ice hockey player. “We try to appease to somewhat of a broader market even though we’re in areas of high income.”
Launched in January, The Cubby is a college specific marketplace intended for students to buy and sell to peers on campus. Presented by Josh Kim, The Cubby is currently at Colby, Boston College, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Northeastern University and the University of Maine.
“There is no marketplace in today’s day and age that is just for college students,” Kim said. “Current marketplaces are full of scams and strangers … There’s no verification and no security.”
ShopLight uses algorithms and community reviews to sift through product listings for an essential products marketplace. Presented by Charis Li, ShopLight targets college students and people who move often.
“We believe that this business model is quite sustainable because we target the small inventory list that generate the highest values,” Li said.
Alex Ozols and Sam Fisher presented Galatea, which looks to eliminate the tea bag entirely with a sustainable powdered tea product. Fisher said a burgeoning instant coffee market inspires the company, which launches mid-2021.
“We are very confident that we can create a strong market fit,” Fisher said.
Awari, Eniola Adeoye-Lawal’s company, is a place to connect people. One fills out a form, looks at other responses and is connected to people with similarities.
“The entire process of Awari is to facilitate where the interaction begins in the first place,” Adeoye-Lawal said. “It’s nearby and the passive discovery.”
Nick Peterson’s business, Momentum, helps kids learn how to code using attractive colors and shapes.
“Basically, you program what you want the box to do and it becomes the back end language,” Peterson said.
THOMAS COLLEGE STUDENTS
BarBus & Co. looks to bring a bar to the people. Nick Vacco and Cameron Meserve emphasized their business will sell local products. BarBus & Co. is in the process of scheduling a calendar of events and working on licensing.
“When you look at competition, you’re mostly going to see food trucks, restaurants, bars and catering companies,” Vacco said. “I think we’re more unique than all of those because we’ve combined them.”
Launched in the fall of 2019, TreeFreeHeat recycles Maine’s hemp waste into heating products. Dylan Veilleux said he pitched to Greenlight last year with no sales, but now has 17 wholesale partners across Maine for his sustainable fire starter products.
“Our product appeals to people who love to have fires, but hate to start fires,” Veilleux said.
SledTRX founder Jake Warn, an avid snowmobile rider, created the company to get snowmobile maps online. SledTRX is like the vehicle navigation app Waze but for snowmobile riders.
“Now, I have a conjoined map system,” Warn said.