Jumpstart Maine college students prepare their business pitches for a shot at $25,000

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WATERVILLE, Maine (WABI) - College students from across Maine will compete this weekend in the Greenlight Maine Collegiate Challenge.

Students will pitch their start-up businesses for a shot at a $25,000 grant.

A group of Central Maine students are getting ready to seize the opportunity.

They're part of Jumpstart Maine, a group that fosters business ideas for college students in Central Maine. The group works out of Bricks Coworking & Innovation Space and is able to bounce ideas off of each other as well as seasoned business vets and Jumpstart founders, RJ Anzelc and Nick Rimsa.

"Bricks has been an amazing space to work, and I've met incredible people, incredible resources, who are so willing to help and will do anything to try and create this environment of entrepreneurship and community," said Katharine Dougherty, co-founder of EasyEats.

"Having that community where I can bounce ideas off them, they can bounce ideas off me, and really working as a collective to take all of our businesses to the next level is something that's really special," said Torsten Brinkema, founder of Weart.

They hosted a practice night to hone their pitches before the competition.

Dylan Veilleux created his start-up, TreeFreeHeat (treefreeheat.com), to give people an environmentally friendly alternative to other forms of energy.

"What we do is we convert unused hemp stocks into biobricks and firestarters to reduce the reliance on fossil fuels and wood energy in Maine," said Veilleux.

After realizing a need at Colby College, Josh Kim founded his start-up, Sklaza, aimed at giving college students an easy way to exchange items.

"It's essentially a marketplace," said Kim. "It's a website where college students can post items online and for their classmates and peers to be able to search, find, and buy those same items on the same college campus."

Katharine Dougherty and Christian Krohg are co-founders of EasyEats, a college food delivery service that delivers food directly to your dorm room door.

If they win Greenlight, they want to expand their business that took over 800 orders last year.

"We want to ensure that we can continue to scale, and the new platform will allow us to do that in a much more manageable way," said Krohg.

And Weart founder Torsten Brinkema has created a platform to raise the profile of young artists by getting their work on apparel and marketing it. He says that he saw art in museums exclusively from older generations, and wants to give young artists a path to success.

"I try to give them the knowledge and exposure, kind of a new audience base, as much as I can, so that they can transform their art passion into a career," said Brinkema.

Regardless of the outcome of Greenlight, the future looks bright for these young Central Maine entrepreneurs.

The competition is Saturday afternoon at Thomas College from 1:00-5:00p.m. and is open to the public.