Garbage to Garden, the Portland-based company offering curbside composting, bested the competition Friday night to win the inaugural Greenlight Maine competition and its $100,000 top prize.
The company, founded by Tyler Frank in 2012, has reached deep penetration in the greater Portland region. Currently, the company claims one in seven households in Portland are a customer. Garbage to Garden also services South Portland, Falmouth, Cumberland, Yarmouth, Westbrook, Cape Elizabeth, and Brunswick. It also recently expanded into the Boston area.
Greenlight Maine is a weekly TV show that aimed to be a local and more friendly version of ABC’s popular reality TV show, “Shark Tank.”
Frank told Maine Startups Insider that winning Greenlight Maine represents a “major success” for the company.
“Considering that we’ve never had any investment at all and have been entirely funded by customers this award will go a long way for us,” he said.
Frank said the company would use the $100,000 to further the expansion plans in Belmont and Arlighton, Mass., as well as in southern Maine. He plans to add another heavy-duty truck to his fleet purchase an automatic bin-washing system that will improve efficiency. He said the company is also hiring for three new positions.
While he’s avoided raising outside capital to this point, Frank said he plans to start pitching investors at the end of the year.
“We are waiting to prove early success with our first satellite location in order to obtain a higher valuation and raise enough money to expand across New England without yielding so much equity that it jeopardizes the soul of our mission-based company,” he told MSI. “We are committed to continuing to support and improve the communities we service though thousands of hours of sponsored volunteer work, compost donations, and educational outreach.”
Friday night’s business-pitch competition, held on the last day of Maine Startup and Create Week, is the culmination of a process that began a year ago when 44 companies were chosen out of 86 applications to compete. Those 44 companies were whittled down to 26, which pitched their businesses on a weekly TV show that began airing in September on WCSH 6 in Portland and WLBZ 2 in Bangor.
Frank and Garbage to Garden were competing against two other startups Friday night: Chimani, a Portland-based developer of mobile apps that serve as travel guides for national parks, and Revolution Research, an Orono-based company started by a UMaine graduate student that’s pursuing the development of environmentally sustainable insulation for the building industry.
I’ve reached out to Frank for comment, and will update the story when I hear from him. Before the final competition, when he was chosen as a finalist, Frank said he was thrilled.
“Since the competition began, we’ve had the good fortune to be leaders on the crest of a growing national food waste awareness movement,” he told Maine Startups Insider. “We’re grateful that right here in Maine, Greenlight Maine has provided us the platform, support and opportunity to share our story.”
The $100,000 Greenlight Maine prize comes in the form of a grant, and is not an equity investment.
Frank was also a finalist for the recent Launchpad business pitch competition, sponsored by Gorham Savings Bank. He did not win Launchpad’s $50,000 top prize, but won the audience-choice award, which came with $10,000 worth of in-kind services from some local marketing and legal firms.
The Greenlight Maine judges were Betsy Peters, chief marketing officer at LightSail Education; Kerem Durdag, former CEO of Biovation and current entrepreneur-in-residence at the Maine Technology Institute; and Tarik Sultan, founding partner at Sultan Ventures, a Hawaii-based venture firm focusing on early-stage startups.
Photo credit: Samantha Stern at KINGSPØKE