Five businesses were honored at the 5th annual Entreverge awards at an event Wednesday night in Portland.
Propel, the young professionals group at the Portland Regional Chamber, presents the awards each year to entrepreneurs in the Greater Portland area “whose businesses exhibit a scalable vision for the future and a long term commitment to the people, place and prosperity of Maine,” according to Propel’s website.
Winners receive an electric guitar, along with a package of professional business and consulting services from local sponsors.
“There are a number of entrepreneurship programs these days, but we bring a focus on the younger group, which is a key part of Portland’s demographic,” said Nate Huckel-Bauer, an attorney at Drummond & Drummond and president of Propel’s board.
The Entreverge awards are about recognizing the entrepreneurial spirit of Portland, Huckel-Bauer said, and are “part of making the city a more attractive place for young people to come and start businesses.”
The winners of the 5th annual Entreverge awards are:
- Garden to Garbage, which provides curbside composting pickup in Portland and a handful of surrounding communities;
- Pika Energy in Westbrook, which is on the verge of manufacturing residential-scale wind turbines;
- Mainely Burgers, a food truck in Scarborough;
- Urban Farm Fermentory in Portland, which produces cider, mead and kombucha;
- and Cairn Event Consulting, a wedding and event planner in Scarborough.
Heather Cuzzi, owner of Cairn Event Consulting, was humbled by her recognition. She started her wedding planning business in October 2009, after handling logistics and travel for the White House, and its grown to the point where she’s booked solid every wedding season.
“It started small and grew so quickly,” Cuzzi said, “and now for a legitimate organization like Entreverge to recognize me … It took my breath away.”
Tyler Frank and Cory Fletcher, co-founders of Garden to Garbage, said the recognition and consulting services will help them grow their business. Since launching in August 2012, the company has signed on 5 percent of Portland’s households as customers — all by word of mouth.
The business has been all about “getting communities to compost,” Frank said. “We’re doing that, but while doing that we’re not paying for a professional accountant. [The awards package] will provide material support that will really help us grow.”
The awards package includes marketing/branding services provided by Might & Main, a past Entreverge winner, which will help the business launch its first marketing campaign.
The awards package also includes legal services from Pierce Atwood; merchant services from PowerPay; tax services from Purdy Powers & Co.; financial services from Reinhard & Associates; professional accessories from Rogue Industries, another past Entreverge winner; and TV advertising from WGME.