Lobster Unlimited takes home Big Gig crown

Amy Irish, left, of University Credit Union presents the award to Cathy Billings, Matthew Hodgkin and Bob Bayer of Lobster Unlimited, LLC.

Amy Irish, left, of University Credit Union presents the award to Cathy Billings, Matthew Hodgkin and Bob Bayer of Lobster Unlimited, LLC.

The University Credit Union (UCU) held Big Gig’s Networking and Pitch-Off Event last Wednesday at their downtown Orono location. The event gave three local entrepreneurs the opportunity to pitch their business ideas for a $250 cash prize, provided by UCU, and the opportunity to compete in Big Gig’s final event in April.

Associate Director for Communications and Development at the University of Maine’s Lobster Institute, Cathy Billings, took the prize for Lobster Unlimited, LLC.

Billings won the crowd’s vote with a personal anecdote about Lobster Rx, a non-medicated skin cream that aims to treat the side effects of shingles and the herpes virus with the use of lobster hemolymph — a product that is essentially flushed down the drain in mass quantities (approximately 5 million pounds) each year. Billings successfully used the product to heal her own case of shingles.

The pitch-off also included presentations by Phil Frost, a Husson University student who pitched Plan it Local, a business that connects travelers with certified local tour guides in Costa Rica, and Andrea Beaulieu of the Kindness Project, who pitched a mobile application that aids the delivery and distribution of leftover food to those in need.

The Big Gig’s panel of judges, or “Big Wigs” as the organization calls them, included Heather Furth, owner of Verve, Kris Burton, UMaine director of technology commercialization, and Jesse Moriarty, Vice President of Resource Development and Communication for United Way of Eastern Maine. The “Big Wigs” provided constructive feedback after each of the contestant’s five-minute pitches.

This year’s event differed from Big Gig’s previous Pitch-Offs, as it featured a presentation from this year’s “Big Rig,” Dr. Todd O’Brien. O’Brien is the founder of O’Brien Medical, LLC and has six licensed surgical products and six issued patents.

O’Brien shared a sample pitch for his latest product, Fracture DX, a mobile application that can detect bone fractures using sound wave technology. After the pitch, O’Brien provided a breakdown of his presentation for hopeful entrepreneurs.

“Our goal is to grow a network of innovators,” Renee Kelly, member of the Big Gig Steering Committee said during the event. “We’re much more like the dolphin tank than the shark tank. We want to provide friendly support.”

Kelly also announced an upcoming networking opportunity for entrepreneurs. Scratchpad Accelerator, a UMaine initiative that seeks to support startups in the quick development of their companies, is holding a Mentor-Entrepreneur Meet and Greet Nov. 4 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the WBRC office in Bangor. More information about the event can be found at ScratchpadAccelerator.com

The next Big Gig Pitch-Off and Networking Event will be Wednesday, Dec. 9 at Yamas Bar and Grill in Old Town. The event will be one of two more Pitch-Offs before the finale in April. Interested applicants can enter at the event’s website.

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