“Top Gun” Entrepreneur Showcase Winner 2021 Announced

PORTLAND, Maine, May 27, 2021 – The Maine Center for Entrepreneurs (MCE) along with its partners, the University of Maine, Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, and the Harold Alfond Institute for Business Innovation at Thomas College announced today that The Cubby, from the Waterville Region cohort has won the annual Top Gun Showcase pitch competition held virtually in the evening on Wed, May 26th. Matteo Cugno, COO accepted the award on behalf of The Cubby.  The Showcase winner will receive a $25,000 cash prize sponsored by the Maine Technology Institute.  

The Cubby is an online marketplace for art made by college students. By shopping on The Cubby, consumers support emerging artists and purchase one-of-a-kind pieces of art at an affordable price. The entire purchase price goes directly to the artist; The Cubby boasts no hidden fees, so selling is simple and art is accessible to all buyers.

Since 2009, the Top Gun program has assisted over 300 entrepreneurs in successfully growing their businesses through a combination of structured classroom curriculum and in-depth mentoring. The 15-week program began in January and after a series of regional pitching events, culminated in the final Showcase event with two finalists from each of the four regions pitching.

Eight Maine entrepreneurs pitched their businesses virtually to an audience of over100 and three judges. The Top Gun 2021 program had a total of 29 participating businesses across the state. The eight finalists presenting were:

  • Mohamed Awil, Community Staffing Partners  (Lewiston)
  • Jennifer Banis, Stay FnB  (Lewiston)
  • Jason Hine, Halo Med, LLC (Portland)
  • Brenden Westin, DuraBike, LLC, (Portland)
  • David Pier, DenVantage Small Business (Bangor)
  • Emma Richardson, Co-Exist (Bangor)
  • Heather Kerner, The Good Crust (Waterville)
  • Matteo Cugno, The Cubby (Waterville)

The Showcase judges this year were Patrick Arnold, Co-Founder and CEO of New England Ocean Cluster, Jay Friedlander, Sharpe-McNally Chair of Green and Socially Responsible Business at College of the Atlantic, and Beth Shissler, President & Chief Sustainability Officer, Sea Bags, LLC.

At the Showcase event, Portland based law firm Preti Flaherty also awarded its annual Michael Sheehan Memorial Award of $5,000 to Heather Kerner, owner of The Good Crust, a manufacturer of frozen pizza dough made from locally sourced grains, while implementing a social mission to integrate people with unique needs in purposeful paid work. The prize was presented by Managing Partner, David Van Slyke, on behalf of the firm and in memory of Michael Sheehan who was a tireless supporter of entrepreneurs.

“The broad range of companies and diversity of the entrepreneurs presenting at our 2021 Showcase demonstrates that the Maine entrepreneurial spirit is strong and thriving despite the turmoil of a pandemic. We are proud of each and every one in the Top Gun Class of 2021.” said Tom Rainey, Executive Director, Maine Center for Entrepreneurs.

About MCE: 

Founded in 1997, MCE is an independent non-profit organization based in Portland that helps the most promising Maine companies launch and grow through training, connections, and “hands-on” support from dozens of volunteer advisors and business mentors.  In addition to the Top Gun Program, MCE offers Cultivator, a year-long business accelerator program to scale food, beverage and agriculture businesses; MarketShare, a program that provides strategic trade data and training to member businesses, and the Maine Bioscience Cluster, an initiative that supports technology commercialization and startup businesses in the life sciences and healthcare.  To learn more, please visit www.mced.biz.