You could have a hand in deciding which local entrepreneurs should win $500, and advance for a shot at $5,000 during the 1st "Big Gig Pitch-Off" tonight.

The Big Gig is a volunteer-based partnership between municipalities, universities and organizations that are looking for new ideas and to help new folks who are trying to start their own businesses.

"Big Gig is a local pitch competition that was founded in 2012; early-stage entrepreneurs, with even just ideas and early-stage start-ups, wanting to get help and pitch advice from local experts and other business people, and help get the word out about what they're doing to the community. That's how it started and it's really grown since then."

Emma Wilson, Entrepreneurship Events & Marketing Coordinator with Big Gig, says the three local competitors featured in tonights streaming event have been widdled down from a large number of local thinkers and dreamers.

"Entrepreneurs from around Maine have applied to pitch their innovative business idea or early-stage start-up. We then picked the top ten, who go ahead and pitch at our private events, which we call 'Little Gigs'. The ideas are pitched to our steering committee made up of local Economic Development Directors and business professionals. And then we pick the top 3 to pitch at our public event, which is tonight."

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The 3 top contenders this year are:

  • Josh Fox of Tidal Bore, which developed Survue, a bicycle taillight that harnesses AI to detect hazardous drivers and warn the motorist and cyclist of one another.
  • Lee Sowles of Kind Mind, a social and emotional learning (SEL) curriculum for elementary schools, that promotes compassion and resilience for the whole community.
  • Brenden Westin of DuraBike, which has created a bike fleet solution for those with chronic breakdowns, poor performance, and expanding service costs.

Wilson says the Big Gig event, which was initially more Bangor-based, has now grown to represent more of a statewide pool of talent,  due to Covid-19 restrictions forcing the once in-person event to an online platform. That move to streaming the Big Gig pitches online has also offered the organization a chance to take public opinion into mind, as well.

"We listen to their pitches, give them feedback, and help them find local resources. We have a panel of 3 judges that they'll be pitching to tonight. We have Jason Clay, Director of Operations for Governor's Restaurant. We have a local entrepreneur named Josh Hayward [from PracticeOn] and Karen West with Maine Technology Institute. The challengers will have 5 minutes of just talking, no slides or anything like that, to pitch their company."

The entrepreneurs will then get feedback from the professionals (think more Dolphin Tank than Shark Tank--it's more constructive and less for entertainment's sake.) Then the judges will deliberate. The audience will also get to cast their votes for who they believe should win the $500. And then whoever wins, will advance for a shot at the $5,000.

If you want to watch tonight's Big Gig pitches, here's how you do it.

You can RSVP to watch tonight's Big Gig event by clicking on this link: https://bit.ly/3DJA187.

The 5-minute pitches will start at 5 PM.

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