January 2021 Edition
Sponsored by People's United Bank
5 Qs with Chuck Thompson
Vice President of Sales and Development, Minnow
1. What was the inspiration for the design of the Minnow pickup pod?

We saw mobile ordering and food delivery growing very rapidly but felt the system was broken. Delivery service commissions are expensive for the restaurant partner and the delivery process is inefficient and unreliable with one person delivering one meal to one location.

Minnow is a seed-stage IoT startup that is creating a better way to deliver food. Our contact-free Pickup Pods provide a safer and more convenient food delivery experience for consumers, while reducing delivery costs by an order of magnitude for delivery services and food service operators like restaurants, ghost kitchens, and caterers. Our co-founder & CEO is an experienced entrepreneur who led his first startup, an enterprise software company in the CRM space, to a successful exit (IPO).

Minnow developed the original minnow pod to support scheduled group delivery, where local restaurants could produce and deliver multiple meals (up to 20) to a single safe and secure minnow pod in one location. Minnow is also launching a solution for workspaces and multifamily residential buildings where any delivery service can deliver to the pod in a safe, convenient, and contact-free manner.

2. What resources, partners, and companies have been helpful to Minnow as it has continued to grow?

The hardware has been 100% developed on the east coast and the software platform has been developed by a team in Seattle. We have spent three years leveraging a focused human-centered design approach lead by our Vice President of Hardware who is an ex-Ideo design employee. We are envied by others in the industry for our hardware design but the real magic is in the software platform we have developed. 

3. How does Minnow pod interface and communicate with customers?

Although Minnow is well known for its modern aesthetically-pleasing hardware, the real magic is in the cloud-based back end platform that makes everything work. The pod is an IoT device which connects via ethernet, wifi, or cellular connectivity. What makes Minnow unique in the industry for both the delivery and pickup workflows is the users' mobile device. To deliver, a user scans a QR code on the pod and this opens a web drive workflow which directs the driver through the process on their phone. Once the delivery is completed, a SMS text message is sent to the “luncher” which contains a URL to a button they can use to retrieve their order. 

4. Where are your services currently offered, and what does the Minnow pod expansion strategy look like?

Minnow has developed a solution: an IoT-enabled, contact-free food delivery and pickup station, which we call a pod. You can think of it like an Amazon locker for food. Our mission is to build and operate a global platform of food delivery pods, integrated to the major food delivery services, restaurant ordering systems, and travel & hospitality platforms.

Our go-to-market ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) is food service operators, food ordering platforms, and food delivery companies that want to operate “scheduled group delivery”. We’re engaged with a number of companies who are interested in or are actively piloting our solution, including in Tokyo, where we have a pilot underway in several office buildings owned by Mitsubishi.

We’re also aggressively partnering with real estate services firms to place our pods in office and residential buildings. We recently signed a preferred supplier agreement with JLL, one of the world’s largest commercial real estate companies. Lincoln Property Company invested in our seed round after testing a Minnow pod at one of their properties.

5. In your Tech Talk on Central Maine Tech Night this month, you will be speaking about how Minnow was created. What are your plans for growth within the next 2-5 years?

The market for ghost kitchens and food delivery could exceed $1T within 10 years. Minnow is developing a critical layer of the food delivery tech stack, and we’re looking to partner with value-add investors who want to help us transform the way people get their food.

Our traction and operational metrics suggest that we've solved for product risk and have a compelling solution. Now it's time to optimize and monetize our solution. Our next set of hires will reflect: 
- A technical product manager and a backend developer (software) 
- A operations manager 
- A product marketing manager 
- Inside sales reps / account managers 
- A customer support lead 

We expect to build and deliver over 500 pods in 2021 and over 1,500 pods in 2022.
January Tech Night:
Minnow: Keeping Food Secure and People Safe
January 14 | 12:00 p.m. | Click here for Zoom link

Listen in to hear about how Minnow is on a mission to create a better food delivery and pickup experience with its contact-free Pickup Pods, which keep food secure and people safe.
About Minnow: Minnow Pickup Pod enables food service operators and commercial property managers to provide a safer and more convenient food pickup experience.
Virtual Central Maine Tech Night (CMTN) Recordings
By moving to the virtual Zoom platform to comply with social distancing recommendations, Central Maine Tech Night (CMTN) has made its presentations available for viewing anytime. You can watch recordings of past CMTNs on the

CMGC's Community Planning Workshop
Waterville Corridor Project
January 12, 2021 | 4:30-5:30 PM | Zoom (call details here)
The Working Communities Challenge (WCC) advances local collaborative efforts that build strong, healthy economies and communities in Maine’s rural towns, regions, and smaller cities. Launched in 2020, the initiative supports local teams working together to improve economic outcomes for all people in Maine’s towns, cities, and rural communities. This unique three-year grant competition is supported by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, the State of Maine, national and local philanthropy, and private sector employers.

The city of Waterville submitted a letter of interest on December 1 to the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and has since been formally invited to apply for a design grant application, which is due January 30, 2021. In preparation for submitting a working communities challenge design grant application to the Boston Fed, CMGC will be holding a one-hour workshop on the initiative to gather public input and conduct an environmental scan that will inform future planning steps and grant applications.

To participate in the Waterville Riverfront Neighborhoods & Downtown Corridor Project Community Planning Questionnaire, click here.
Partnering with Your Bank During Difficult Times
Article by People's United Bank
During this unprecedented and challenging time, owners and CEOs trying to sustain their business operations need two things most of all: capital to fund operations and time to execute their plan. Because they are in a position to provide both of these critical assets, banks can be an essential partner to companies facing new economic realities.

To read more about the three steps business owners and executives should take to maximize their chances of getting the time and capital from their banks that they will need to protect their business, click here.

For more important tips to help maintain operational continuity during the COVID-19 crisis, click here.
Business Investment
Top Stories of December 2020

“This has been a year of possibility for Colby", college President David A. Greene said. “The college is stronger than ever thanks to the collective efforts of our alumni, families and friends, whose generosity has made a lasting impact for our students today and for those who will follow for decades and generations to come".

Gorham Bike & Ski, a full-service shop at 50 Concourse West, is between The Villager Family Restaurant and Yardgoods Center. It joins four other company stores in Portland, Brunswick, Kennebunk and Saco, and a seasonal store in Jackson, New Hampshire, which offers gear for cross-country skiing.

Founded in 2019 by product designer Nick Rimsa and software developer Brendan Barr, Tortoise Labs offers a free, multi-week product design class — in partnership with Bricks Coworking & Innovation Space and the Bill and Joan Alfond Foundation — that’s called “Move Slow and Learn Things". It teaches students the skills to go from an idea to the marketplace.

FirstPark Executive Director Jim Dinkle said the park has succeeded for several reasons including increased marketing, businesses making moves for the “post-pandemic world” and the sale of the 78,610-square-foot building that houses the T-Mobile call center to JB Brown & Sons of Portland for $10.7 million in April. The building sits on 26 acres at 133 First Park Drive.

Shane Savage, who was recently named Central Maine Growth Council’s 2020 Developer of the Year, purchased Buddies Groceries from a local ownership group and took over September 1. The new location of Oakland Pharmacy opened on December 14. At the KMD location, Oakland Pharmacy carried some groceries. It offered lottery tickets and sold chips, wine, bread, dairy and more.
Contact: Don Plourde
207-660-4000 dplourde@cbplourde.com
Central Maine Real Estate Spotlight
Featured Commercial Property:
90 Airport Rd, Waterville, ME 04901
Building Size: 5,000 sq.ft.
Sale Price: $499,000
Property Features:
  • Loading docks and overhead doors
  • Off-street parking
  • Metal roofing
  • Multi-use building
  • Spacious interior
  • Proximity to I-95
Workforce Investment
Workforce Training & Professional Development: 
Spring professional development classes are open for registration
Workforce training has not stopped at Kennebec Valley Community College.

Kennebec Valley Community College spring professional development classes are open for registration. The schedule includes Heat Pump Installer Training, EPA 608 Certification, 3D Print Beginner to Advanced, Healthcare Provider CPR, Basic EMT, Welding, High Pressure Boiler and more. We will continue to provide online or hybrid training models for many of our classes. To see more great offerings or register for a class, please visit our website

Don’t miss the many FREE training classes available at KVCC or other Maine Community Colleges available here.  KVCC is still supporting the business community with customized training options. 

To learn how you can grow your workforce or train your existing team please call 207.453.5083 or visit us online at www.kvcc.me.edu/workforce.  
Quality of Place
Sponsored by MaineGeneral Health
You want more convenient ways to get the care you need! We’re with you. If you have a health concern like allergies, ear or skin problems, the cold or flu, you can now have an eCare visit by computer or smartphone! MaineGeneral eCare is available wherever you are and is only $49 a visit.

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Board of Directors:

Chris Gaunce, chair – Central Maine Motors Auto Group
Beth Gibbs, treasurer – Thomas College
Lucille Zelenkewich, secretary – Bar Harbor Bank and Trust

Terri Vieira – Northern Light Health - Inland Hospital
Erica Lacroix - Town of Winslow
Ryan Poulin - New Dimensions FCU
Elizabeth Fortin – Kennebec Valley Community College
Paul Stein – MaineGeneral Health
Michael Roy – City of Waterville
Gary Bowman – Town of Oakland
Michelle Flewelling – Town of Fairfield
Brian Clark – Colby College
Michael Runser – Valley Beverage
Allan Rancourt – Kennebec Federal Savings
Donald Plourde – Coldwell Banker Plourde Real Estate
Tom Meucci - Huhtamaki

Ex-Officio Board Members:

James Dinkle – Kennebec Regional Dev. Authority/ FirstPark
Ole Amundsen - Kennebec Valley Council of Governments
Christian Savage - Somerset Economic Development Corporation