CAMDEN, Maine — More than 600 leaders in New Englandâ€™s creative economy gatheredÂ last weekend for Midcoast Magnetâ€™s Juice 3.0 Conference. Most of the artists, entrepreneurs, and community developers were there for the sessions and the networking, but 65 were there for the money.
The Pitch Contest invited developing businesses and nonprofits to apply for investment capital. Businesses within four tracks – non-profits, arts, sustainability, and main street – pursued an award of $25,000 in flexible financing from Coastal Enterprises, Inc. After two rounds of pitches and interviews, finalists ended up in a Shark Tank. By Sunday afternoon, two very different fish were still swimming.
Five-year-old Evergreen Home Performance was the older-and-wiser one. A $500 award from Juiceâ€™s first Pitch Contest in 2007 helped kick-start Richard and Sammy Riegel Burbankâ€™s energy efficiency contracting company. Today, Rockland-based Evergreen provides energy audits and contracting to hundreds of Midcoast homeowners â€“ and family wages and health insurance for its 23 employees. Juice is just one of the places Evergreen is looking to finance its next round of growth, which will take the company into southern Maine.
Alternative Rock is where Evergreen was four years ago. The founders of this architectural concrete countertop company are working day jobs and pouring concrete in their spare time â€“ when the weather in their barn-workshop permits. Marcel Valliere and Paul Powers envision the kind of growth Evergreen has experienced, and theyâ€™ve got the business plan to get there â€“ but until last weekend, theyâ€™d never approached investors.
â€śWe came to Juice to learn,â€ť said Valliere. â€śGetting involved with this network was a great investment in our company, whether we won any money or not, and connecting with Evergreen was terrific. Weâ€™ve admired Evergreen ever since Paul heard Richard speak about sustainability, so it was incredible to share the Shark Tank with them.â€ť
Evergreen Home Performance and Alternative Rock are at completely different stages in their development, but theyâ€™re both exactly what the Pitch Contest sponsors had in mind.
â€śTheyâ€™re great stories about what weâ€™re trying to do,â€ť said Jayme Okma Lee, a Fund Associate for Small Enterprise Growth Fund. â€śWe want to launch new ideas, like Alternative Rock, and help in-market companies like Evergreen get to the next level.â€ť
So whatâ€™s an investor to do?
â€śFaced with two really good opportunities, the sponsor agreed to fund both,â€ť said Skip Bates, Regional Manager for Bangor Savings and Midcoast Magnet board member. Bates was in the room while the judges went back and forth between apples and oranges, and he suggested making the call that let them choose both.
â€śThe financing will allow Alternative Rock to launch their business out of hobby-mode,â€ť said Bates, â€śbut Evergreen really embodies CEIâ€™s triple bottom line philosophy. Funding Evergreen has economic benefits from a number of perspectives, the social mission of helping people feel more comfortable in their homes while keeping more dollars in their pockets, and the environmental benefit of conserving resources.â€ť
CEI agreed right away, and after the paperwork and due diligence are done, it will award each company $25,000 in flexible financing.
CEIâ€™s triple bottom line â€“ economic viability, equitable employment, and environmental conservation â€“ is equally important to Evergreen Home Performance. Evergreenâ€™s whole-house approach to remodeling emphasizes energy efficiency, indoor air quality, comfort, and building durability, and yields homeowners an average 10% return on their investment.
â€śFour years ago, Juice saw something in us at the Pitch Contest,â€ť said Burbank. â€śThe $500 we got back then helped us, and the vote of confidence did too. Weâ€™ve come through that shaky period of growth with our passion and our commitment intact, and here we are, proving that the potential they saw in us was real. Weâ€™re proud of that â€“ and very excited that Alternative Rock is getting an opportunity to create the same kind of growth.â€ť
Contact Name: Kathleen Meil
Telephone Number: (207)594-2244