Our mission is to provide resources to attract, support, and help develop eligible small businesses with the potential for substantial growth and success that will contribute to the prosperity of Maine.
Newsletter for 
Fall 2016 
P. O Box 63
Newport, Maine  04953
Land:  207-924-3800    
Fund News
Maine Venture Fund Welcomes CourseStorm, Inc.
To Its Portfolio in 2016!

An Orono-based company that provides cloud-based software to help informal educational programs like after-school learning, adult education and workforce development, has raised a total of $760,000 in equity, with Maine Venture Fund as the lead investor.  
Maine Venture Fund Honors 
Three Maine Companies

Maine Venture Fund presented its annual awards to three of its portfolio companies and recognized a fourth at the fund’s CEO and Company Recognition Dinner at the Hilton Garden Inn on Monday, September 26.

Receiving the award for Management Team of the Year was Coast Of Maine Organic Products, Inc (coastofmaine.com) led by CEO Carlos Quijano, COO Sid Malone and Director of Marketing Cameron Bonsey, all of whom were there to accept the award on behalf of the company.

Coast was lauded for its clearly articulated Board-approved strategy, active measurement of results versus forecast, accountability, and transparency with employees and investors, and its regular reporting to all stakeholders.

It is no surprise that the teams’ excellence, impressive financial results, brand status, and growth opportunities, led to a significant investment in the company in July of this year by Gemini Investors.  The Gemini investment provided an exit opportunity for the few external investors in the Company, including Maine Venture Fund.  The additional capital and strategic partnerships will allow Coast to expand the reach of its iconic brand and high quality products both within its current markets and further geographically, and strengthens its position as a leader in the lawn & garden consumer products industry.

The Achievement Award was presented to Pika Energy, Inc (pika-energy.com), and there to accept the award were CEO Ben Polito and CTO & co-founder Joshua Kaufman.  This award recognizes a company that has achieved significant milestones and or great progress over the prior year. The milestones achieved or progress shown demonstrates management’s ability to be flexible, innovative and to take action based on data and evidence. Pika’s management team and dedicated Board of Directors navigated an impressive year with notable achievements including a successful capital raise led by a clean tech investor group, several new product launches, and the receipt of a large grant from the US Department of Energy.

Pika Energy’s products manage the flow of energy, giving buildings the power to collect, use, and store clean energy.

The fund’s Public Benefit Award went to Gelato Fiasco, Inc (gelatofiasco.com), led by CEO Josh Davis.  The Public Benefit award is presented to recognize a company that has added Maine employees, supports Maine vendors, and has created strong community partnerships to help improve Maine’s economy.

Gelato Fiasco has continued to grow its workforce though the years. The company has recently completed a 2.5 million dollar expansion of their existing processing plant (The Flavor Factory) in Brunswick. In its new state of the art production facility Gelato Fiasco is able to capture the waste heat from the refrigeration of its milk that can be used to heat the plant, do snow melting, and help to create hot water.

The company supports local community organizations through its Scooping for Community program. This program has returned over $40,000 to Brunswick and Portland communities over the last 3 years. In addition Gelato Fiasco has shown a commendable loyalty to Maine companies as suppliers. It is committed to using only Maine milk in its gelato making and sources much of its fruit and other flavors and ingredients from Maine based suppliers.

Gelato Fiasco opened its first store in Maine in 2007, added a second company outlet in Portland and is now selling its 20 flavors of Gelato to over 4,500 retail outlets throughout the US.

Portfolio Company News
The happy marriage of Sea Watch International and Bar Harbor Foods

On 7 September, Maryland, U.S.A-based clam processor Sea Watch International announced a major investment in Maine, U.S.A.-based Look’s Gourmet Food Company and Bar Harbor Foods. SeafoodSource interviewed Sea Watch International COO/CFO Jerry Gordon (pictured, far left) and Look’s/Bar Harbor CEO Mike Cote and to learn more about the new partnership and what the future holds for the two companies.

Congratulations to Coast of Maine Organic Products

In early July, Coast of Maine Organic Products, Inc., a leading organic garden products company, consummated a recapitalization supported by an investment from Gemini Investors .

Coast of Maine produces and markets branded and private label compost-based organic growing soils and soil amendments, sold primarily through the independent garden center and hardware channels.  The Company’s products are differentiated through their unique naturally organic recipes, which utilize local wastes from aquaculture, forestry, and agriculture such as lobster shells, wild blueberry waste, mussel shells, kelp and old barks.  Coast of Maine is based in Portland, Maine and operates a production facility in Marion Township, Maine. Further information about the Company can be found at www.coastofmaine.com.

Read the full article.


Certify Introduces New User Experience to 
Further Simplify T&E Expense Reporting

This important release is the result of 18 months of research and collaboration between a top-tier UX design firm and Certify's in-house design team. Guided by defined user personas developed through this effort, the new Certify user experience offers a clean, modern interface that prioritizes key information and expense reporting workflows. In addition, new Certify users can start using the system with little to no training, due in part to the thousands of hours spent evaluating and applying best practices in UX and UI design.

Certify first rolled out its new user experience to existing customers in October this year. During this period, users had the unique opportunity to switch back and forth between the old and new interfaces while providing real-time feedback about their experience. These customer comments allowed Certify to continue to refine its new user experience, delivering a solution that further streamlines and simplifies the expense management process for every Certify user.

Read the full article.

 Cerahelix wins the New Materials Innovation Platform pitch contest at Plug and Play’s EXPO day

Cerahelix, a Maine startup company which offers an energy efficient filtration technology announced that it has won the New Materials Innovation Platform pitch contest at Plug and Play’s EXPO day. The EXPO day pitch competition was the culmination of a 3 months’ accelerator program at Silicon Valley’s Plug and Play Tech center. Cerahelix was among the twelve best-in-breed new materials startups chosen from over 500 applicants to participate in this industry-specific accelerator program.

Biddeford Hiking Gear Manufacturer Struggles to Find Skilled Workers
 A decade ago, Mike St. Pierre was an adventurous hiker who was frustrated with the ultralight backpacking gear on the market. So he began designing and making his own. Now his company, Hyperlite Mountain Gear, has a factory in an old textile mill in Biddeford, employs more than 30 people and is scrambling to find skilled workers to meet the demand for backpacks and tents.

Read the full article.

Maine & Industry News
Maine's Mentor
By: Susan Axelrod

In late 1976, a young man came to Maine with an education, a big
idea, and little else. Des FitzGerald had a biology degree from Harvard and was fresh from a year of graduate
study in aquaculture at the University of Washington. More importantly, he had a 24-year-old’s sense that life held endless promise, especially in rural Maine, where the raw beauty and cheap acreage were drawing fellow idealists. He bought some land on Kendall Brook, a tributary of the Ducktrap River in Lincolnville, and in the summer of 1977 set about farming trout, planning to sell the fish to local restaurants.

The early years of Ducktrap River Fish Farm did not go entirely smoothly. Predators snatched the growing trout out of the pens, and like many entrepreneurs, FitzGerald struggled to develop his dream into a viable business. “I was blissfully ignorant,” he says, talking with me in the bright, comfortable family room of the sprawling house in Camden where he and his wife, actress and artist Lucinda Zeising, raised four now-grown children.

What kept him going was a conviction that his future lay in fish, and a willingness
to change direction. FitzGerald started experimenting with smoking fish, eventually making it the focus of his entire operation. At about the same time, a friend of his launched a mussel farm, and Ducktrap became the first company in the country
to smoke mussels, one of more than 20 products made today at the company’s 45,000-square-foot facility in Belfast. “At the end of the day the fish-farming site in Lincolnville was limited in size,” he says. “The growth, interest, and excitement were in the smoked-seafood side of the business.”

That willingness to pivot, learned at the first of many startups in which FitzGerald has been involved over the course of his long career, is a quality he now emphasizes as the Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Maine Venture Fund. The mission of the venture capital fund, created by the Maine Legislature in 1995, is investing in Maine companies that show potential for high growth and public benefit. FitzGerald came on board in 2012 and now advises eight of the 26 companies in the fund’s portfolio, including Maine Craft Distilling in Portland.

Read the full article.

Venture capital deals, dollars soften in Q3
By Lori Valigra, Mainebiz

Venture capital deals and investment dollars both dropped in the third quarter of this year ended Sept. 30, partly due to a typical annual third-quarter cycle and to uncertainty over the presidential election.

"This quarter was one of the lowest since 2010," Tom Ciccolella, U.S. Venture Capital Market Leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers, told Mainebiz. He referenced data released Friday in the MoneyTree Report from PwC based on data from Thomson Reuters. "This is something to keep an eye on if it's down two quarters in a row."

In the second quarter of this year, dollars were up but the number of deals was down 5% over the first quarter of 2016.

Nationwide, venture capitalists invested $10.6 billion in the third quarter, down 58% over the second quarter. The 891 deals in the third quarter were down 6% over the prior quarter.

Notably, total venture dollars for startup companies declined 32% quarter-to-quarter, and the deal count was down 25% versus the second quarter.

John Burns, managing director of the Maine Venture Fund, said the third quarter decrease reflects "everybody going away [on vacation] in August." He said venture capitalists are raising a lot of funds but not yet doling them out.

"There's a lot of dry powder about to be deployed," he said. "I expect to see closings [new fundings for MVF] in the fourth quarter with some new companies." MVF had two exits in the third quarter, with Coast of Maine Organic Products Inc. of Portland and Look's Gourmet Food Co. of Whiting both taking on new investors.

Burns added that the larger funds being raised by venture capitalists forces them to put more money to work, which means more money into later-stage companies that may be close to an initial public offering instead of smaller amounts in startup companies.

Read the full article.

Interesting Articles You May Have Missed ...
About the Fund
Maine Venture Fund invests in high-growth Maine companies that have the potential to create strong returns and quality jobs in Maine and, thus, contribute to Maine's prosperity.  Once we invest, we provide business advice and technical assistance to our portfolio companies, as well as access to an extensive network throughout Maine, New England and beyond.  We consider companies in nearly any industry that can demonstrate the potential for high growth and public benefit. 

For more information, visit our website or call us at 207-924-3800.
~~~ MVF Portfolio Companies ~~~

MVF welcomes our newest Board member, Theresa Hodge, is Senior Vice President and Senior Commercial Lender at Bath Savings Institution. Theresa brings years of experience in commercial lending and a familiarity with MVF from her days as a commercial loan officer at FAME.  Theresa's appointment continues a long tradition of highly sophisticated, experienced individuals who volunteer to serve as MVF Board members.

Corson "Corky" Ellis

Vice Chair:  
Christopher S. Pizey

Kimberley A. Niles

Timothy P. Agnew
Daniel E. Boxer
Claire Deselle
Thomas J. Dunne
Blaine S. Grimes
Theresa B. Hodge
John P. Murray
Brian Whitney

Managing Director:

Investment Manager:

Entrepreneur in Residence:

Office Operations Manager:
And finally ... please let us know if you have company news to share!  
Send your news to terri@maineventurefund.com and we will distribute through the entrepreneurial neighborhood!  Thank you.

Maine Venture Fund | P. O. Box 63 | Newport, Maine 04953 | 207.924.3800