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New wave of businesses ready to leave their mark in central Maine

The Dirigo Labs Accelerator Program begins next month where 11 companies will work their way through the 12-week growth period.

WATERVILLE, Maine — After a successful first year in operation, Dirigo Labs recently announced its second cohort of companies that will make their way through its 12-week accelerator program.

“I’m excited to work with these folks, and we have two attractions to Maine from out of state, one from New York, and one from Massachusetts, so we always celebrate that," Dirigo Labs Managing Director Susan Ruhlin said Friday.

After the first year, Ruhlin said staff at Dirigo Labs went through a long process to tweak the program to make sure it's best serving the start-up companies.

This year, companies will have more mentors to work with and a full-time entrepreneur in residence to help founders grow their businesses. Jeremy Barron was named to that role a few months ago.

“Access to his time and talent, I think, will be hugely beneficial," Ruhlin added.

Two Maine-based companies are excited to take part in this cohort and help grow the business scene in central Maine.

ReMo is a web platform that helps teachers and students '"reimagine what it means to be a reader," according to founder Michelle Deblois.

Credit: NCM

Deblois worked as a Maine public school educator for 16 years and just left the classroom in August. She said she founded her company to help solve literacy problems evolving in schools around the state.

Students can use ReMo to set reading goals and track their reading habits, among several other features.

“It really enables the teachers to have all the data and the paperwork in one place so they can spend time with kids," Deblois added.

Andrew Frederick's company Croft is an environmentally friendly business that makes carbon-sequestering building panels for businesses and single-family homes.

“But we are laser-focused on doing the most environmentally-friendly developments we can," Frederick added. “The performance and the efficacity of buildings [aren’t] quite as important as what the buildings are made out of.”

He has grown his company in recent months and now has 10 employees with development projects lined up for the near future.

Both founders added they're excited to take advantage of state and federal grant programs to help finance their businesses.

The official start of the new cohort is January 26 with a pubic event at Dirigo Labs in Waterville.

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