Three Maine-based innovators will present their business ideas at the free Big Gig pitch-off on Tuesday, Feb. 24. The networking event, with food and a cash bar, will be held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Richard E. Dyke Center for Family Business at Husson University in Bangor.
The local entrepreneurs have already won one round of pitch-offs. The winner on Tuesday will receive $250 and have the opportunity to compete at the Big Gig Finale in April for a $1,500 prize.
At the Big Gig on Tuesday, the participants will pitch for no more than five minutes and receive feedback from a panel of Big Wigs on their business or product idea. The audience ultimately decides the winner.
We asked the participants to explain what their venture is about and to name a few things they need to succeed. They already have the ideas and know-how; now they need technology, legal guidance, specific connections, marketing and funding. Here are their answers:
Tip Whip LLC
Founder: Spencer Wood, of Salisbury, N.H., a graduate student in the human development department at the University of Maine
The venture: Tip Whip LLC is a free ride-sharing service for college students. No fees are assigned for the ride, but tips are welcomed. Tip Whip pairs approved and responsible student drivers in their personal vehicles with students who need rides. Tip Whip saves students from making potentially life-altering decisions to drink and drive, walk while impaired, or ride with drivers who are under the influence.
What Tip Whip needs to be successful:
- Mobile app technology to increase efficiency while recording and tracking business.
- Legal guidance on various business models and opportunities.
- Connections to officials in various colleges and universities throughout the country.
Whoopie Pie Cafe
Founder: James Gallagher of Bangor
The venture: The Whoopie Pie Café is an eatery on Hammond Street in Bangor that specializes in the official Maine state treat (the whoopie pie). The cafe has taken the original whoopie pie and created more than 30 different flavors to choose from. Along with all the different flavors of whoopie pies, the cafe also serves lunch and dinner, with choices including salads, pasta, sandwiches and grilled cheese.
What the Whoopie Pie Cafe needs to be successful:
- Develop a website to make shipping whoopie pies easier.
- Expanding, currently looking for more retail locations.
- Marketing, festivals and fairs.
Magic Number Labs
Founders: Tobin Slaven of Bangor and Ross Lasley of Augusta
The venture: Magic Number Labs builds e-commerce software that makes a game out of shopping for customers and helps small- to medium-sized businesses compete online when they can’t win on lowest price. The game appears as a flash sale where the price decreases until the shopper takes the deal, or the retailer takes the price off the table. It helps retailers fine tune their prices, so they know how much they should be charging.
What Magic Number Labs needs to be successful:
- We are seeking funds to assist with our development costs as we are boot-strapping the company.
- We’re seeking online retailers to participate in our test group. A good referral for us would be a bricks and mortar retailer that is struggling to make the transition online, or a current online retailer that wants to squeeze more out of its web store.