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Big Gig Finale to be held at University of Maine

Published on: March 19, 2014

The next Big Gig, on April 8th at UMaine, is the Finale of four networking events for innovators and entrepreneurs held since October in Orono, Old Town, and Bangor, respectively. Three businesses will pitch to the audience and panel of local Big Wigs to compete for the $1,000 grand prize. Interestingly, all the finalists are married couples whose businesses involve food or spirits!

• John & Christine Carney, “Thick & Thin Designs” – Designing and selling cupcake toppers through
• Jessica Jewell & Scott Galbiati, “Northern Maine Distilling” – Making award-winning Twenty 2 Vodka in Brewer.
• Kathy & Bruce Chamberlain, “Stone Fox Farm Creamery” – Using locally sourced ingredients to make ice cream in Monroe.

[Note: John & Christine won the December pitch-off. Kathy & Bruce were runners-up to Jessica & Scott at the hotly-contested February event and are replacing Sarah Newcomb, who won in October with a pitch for her “Who’s Your Daddy” phone app, but asked to be excused from the finale for personal reasons.]

The popularity of food-oriented businesses in the competition has not escaped the notice of the Big Gig Steering Committee. In particular, the Orono Economic Development Corporation, working with UMaine, has started exploring the feasibility of creating an incubator hub locally for food entrepreneurs, providing infrastructure, university expertise, and other forms of support.

The similarity in the profiles of these pitch-off finalists also serves as a reminder that there is more than one model of how a region’s entrepreneurial activity can successfully expand. We’re used to hearing about young singles in densely-populated cities trying to get successive high-tech, electronic enterprises off the ground or, as employees, flitting from one software firm to another. But another model – on display with these three companies – is arguably more attuned to the characteristics of our Maine region: agriculture, production, close communities, and personal grit and commitment.

This is not to say that entrepreneurial enterprises focusing on software or other high-tech areas are incompatible or scarce in our region. For example, two of the pitchers at the previous Big Gig, Tim Lo and Chuck Carter, were observed at the end of the evening sharing experiences on their efforts to obtain crowd-sourced funding for their respective new Bangor businesses – “Plow Now,” an online marketplace and mobile app for on-demand snow removal services; and “Eagre Interactive,” which is developing an immersive, non-violent online game named “Curio.”

What: Big Gig Networking & Pitch-Off Event for Innovators & Entrepreneurs (Finale)

When: 5:30 pm, Tuesday, April 8th, 2014.

Where: Foster Center for Student Innovation, University of Maine, Orono.

Who: Big Gig is an unprecedented partnership between the towns of Orono and Old Town, the University of Maine, Husson University, and Blackstone Accelerates Growth.
• Orono Economic Development Corporation
• Old Town Development LLC
• Foster Center for Student Innovation, University of Maine, Orono
• Richard E. Dyke Center for Family Business, Husson University
• Blackstone Accelerates Growth

Series Sponsor: Blackstone Accelerates Growth – An exciting initiative to promote entrepreneurship and growth to create jobs in Maine. It seeks to shape and accelerate the path to starting, building, and growing successful companies in Maine and to create a culture of success that can support economic growth for years to come. Big Gig is a key element in BxG’s support of the Bangor Innovation Hub.

Prize Sponsor: University Credit Union – Serving the students, employees and alumni of Maine’s University System, UCU is a unique financial solution whose mission is to actively advance the financial well-being of its members in every stage of their lives.

Big Gig Goal: To create a network of innovators and entrepreneurs looking to make positive change and bring economic impact to our communities.

Pitch-Off Details: The pitch-off is actually two events held a week apart. The first event is the Little Gig, where our team of experienced (but kind!) advisors encourages the pitchers and helps refine their presentations. The second event, a week later, is the Big Gig itself. On that night, each of the selected pitchers delivers a five minute elevator pitch (no PowerPoint or handouts) about their business or idea.

The evening of the Big Gig, our panel of local Big Wigs (details below) gives each of the pitchers constructive feedback about their presentations. But ultimately it's the audience who decides who the big winner of the night is.

Regardless of who wins, all participants get free publicity for their amazing idea – plus the opportunity to network with other innovators, entrepreneurs, funders, and providers.

Prizes: At each of the first three pitch-offs, the winner received $100 that night plus a chance to compete at the Big Gig Finale for the $1,000 grand prize. All prizes donated by University Credit Union.

Big Wigs: The panelists will be different at each Big Gig. At this fourth, finale event, the panel of local Big Wigs will include:

• Don Gooding, Executive Director – Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development.
• Jay Fortier, Assistant Vice-President of Member Business Services – University Credit Union.
• Susan MacKay, CEO – Cerahelix.

Other: Array of fresh appetizers & cash bar.

Cost: Free!

Photo Ops: Yes, media welcome and encouraged to attend!

Schedule of Big Gig Events:
• (Concluded: October 22nd, 2013 – Verve in Downtown Orono)
• (Concluded: December 10th, 2013 – Kosta’s Bar & Grill, Old Town)
• (Concluded: February 11th, 2014 – Husson’s Dyke Center for Family Business)
• 5:30 pm, Tuesday, April 8th, 2014 – UMaine Foster Center for Student Innovation

More Info: Big Gig website, Facebook, Twitter

Paul Riechmann, Board Secretary, Orono Economic Development Corporation.
Landline: 207.866.0068. Mobile: 207.991.2947. Email:

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