Revolution Research and TeamAR took home top honors Tuesday night at the Top Gun Showcase, a pitch contest for entrepreneurs who participated in the business accelerator program.
Orono-based Revolution Research, which is designing eco-friendly products for the construction industry, won the $10,000 first-place prize, while TeamAR, a Brunswick-based startup working with augmented reality, took the Microsoft BizSpark award for the best tech company.
The event is a culmination of the Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development’s 2016 Top Gun program, a five-month accelerator for startups. It featured six entrepreneurs — two from each of the Portland, Bangor and Midcoast classes — pitching their businesses.
For Revolution Research, the Top Gun win comes on the heels of several successes over the past year and a half. The company, led by UMaine graduate and current Ph.D. student Nadir Yildirim, is developing eco-friendly thermal insulation foam board that also is fire retardant and water resistant. Yildirim believes the product, which is called Arbolate and grew out of his nanocomposite material research at UMaine, is unique in the $10 billion thermal insulation industry.
In early 2015, Revolution Research won the UMaine Business Challenge and its $5,000 cash award. Then, in June 2015, it received $225,000 from the National Science Foundation’s Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program, which helps companies fund private R&D and commercialize products. Yildirim, a native of Turkey, told Maine Startups Insider that he plans to have phase one of the STTR project completed by December and will then apply for a phase two grant, which is potentially $750,000.
“We are working very hard and nonstop,” Yildirim said. “We don’t want to stop so we are not going to feel that we are tired.”
Revolution Research has also received several small grants from the Maine Technology Institute, which Yildirim called a “critical partner.”
“They are not just there to provide grants, awards or loans, but also to provide knowledge, experience and technical information. It is like we have a team at MTI working for us,” Yildirim said.
Though it’s a long way from Turkey, Yildirim plans to grow his company in Maine.
“I personally believe that the state of Maine shouldn’t be just known for its natural beauty, but also should be known for its advanced research projects that produce innovative solutions,” he said.
TeamAR wins Microsoft tech award
TeamAR (which stands for Team Augmented Reality) won Microsoft’s BizSpark award, which will provide the startup with free access to Microsoft Azure cloud services, software and support for a year — a roughly $120,000 value.
Chuck Benton, TeamAR’s founder, said he’ll certainly be taking advantage of the free cloud services, as he’s currently paying roughly $1,500 a month for servers through Amazon Web Services.
“Moving over will be a pain, but should be doable,” he told Maine Startups Insider.
TeamAR is a pre-revenue startup developing sensor technology to allow the overlay of property lines and utilities maps on an image. In other words, imagine pointing your smartphone camera toward a piece of property and having a brightly colored overlay appear that shows property lines and the location of underground utilities.
Benton said his latest effort is to ultimately have tax property info for the entire United States on his platform.
“Once it is totally up and running it will have lots of data, so it will be great to have that [Microsoft] resource,” he said. “I also want to cache all the maps, which is a huge compute effort, and will burn up lots of Azure time.”
Don Gooding, Anthony Perkins also recognized
Tuesday’s Top Gun Showcase event also marked the last time Don Gooding, MCED’s outgoing executive director, emceed the event. In recognition of his role at MCED and growing the Top Gun program, Catherine Renault, MCED’s board chair, presented Gooding an award for his many accomplishments and dedication to the entrepreneurial community.
In addition, Anthony Perkins of Bernstein Shur, received the Compass Award for his many years of mentoring Top Gun companies.