We Are All Entrepreneurs: A Conversation with Greenlight Maine's Julene Gervais
March 23, 2021
Over its six years on air, Greenlight Maine has become a spoke in the wheel for Maine’s business community. Enterprises such as biofuel-based rocket company bluShift Aerospace or hand-printed fabric designer Erin Flett Textiles have found success and acclaim after appearing on the show. The popular televised startup program will expand its operations to 149 Main Street in Northeast Harbor, where it will continue to help businesses to build a foundation for success.
Greenlight Maine is designed to promote and mentor the development and growth of businesses across the state. Over the course of a season, entrepreneurs hone their pitches with guidance from the show’s mentor pool. Each episode features two businesses who compete for the chance to advance to the finals and obtain prize winnings of up to $100,000. “The prize money can be used to invest and expand their companies,” shares host Julene Gervais. “Entrepreneurs typically have something specific in mind for which they have designated the funds, such as creating jobs or moving to a larger facility. Every path is different, but it is usually expansion and growth of their business.”
Beyond the prize winnings, all participants reap the benefits of the publicity and mentorship offered by Greenlight Maine. Since its launch, more than than $25 million has been invested in Maine companies that appeared on the show. Most of all, Julene adds, Greenlight Maine provides “an opportunity for people to gain experience with pitching, and they can use their pitch over and over again to showcase their businesses. All of the episodes remain on our website, therefore financial investors and venues working with these startups refer to our website as a tool to learn more about the entrepreneurs. It’s a win-win all around, and the prize money is just an added bonus.”
Elevating entrepreneurism is as much about inspiring innovation as it is about developing the networks that support a strong economy. “You don’t have to own your own business to be entrepreneurial,” Julene shares. “We are all entrepreneurs on some level, whether you’re fifteen and getting your first job, running your household finances, or planning your retirement.” When the show is not filming in Portland, the Northeast Harbor office will be used for meetings and connecting with the community. “Acadia National Park is the number one travel destination in the state,” says Julene. “We want to support Mount Desert 365 and the economic growth of the entire region.”
Now in its sixth season, Greenlight Maine has added two programs to its already successful pitch competition. Currently airing is the Collegiate Challenge, with students representing UMaine, Colby, Husson, Thomas, and UNE – and for the first time, College of the Atlantic – competing for a $25,000 prize. And starting next month, Julene will be joined by co-host Alyne Cistone for Elevating Voices, a new series highlighting Maine entrepreneurs of diverse backgrounds. Twelve companies will be featured for the contributions they are making to Maine’s economy. Each participant will receive a grant of $5,000 from Bangor Savings Bank in addition to visibility for their business. Learn more about Elevating Voices and meet the featured businesses at https://greenlightmaine.com.