Finsulate Triumphs at Dirigo Labs Pitch Competition with Ecological Boating Solution

June 4th, 2024

Startup receives $25,000 cash prize sponsored by Skowhegan Savings Bank

2024 Pitch Competition Winner, Finsulate, with Dirigo Labs and Skowhegan Savings Bank Staff

Waterville, ME 6/4/2024 – Finsulate secured a $25,000 prize sponsored by Skowhegan Savings Bank at the accelerator’s third pitch competition in Waterville. Finsulate creates sustainably responsible foul release wrap to replace anti-fouling paint on boats, docks, buoys, and other objects in the ocean. 

“We are incredibly honored to receive the $25,000 cash prize as the winners of the fourth Dirigo Labs pitch competition,” states Finsulate USA Founders Bernard Hidier and Sunshine Mechtenberg. “This funding will enable us to hire a technical sales manager, a critical role in supporting the growth of our business while protecting marine ecosystems and promoting a cleaner, greener marine future.”

Hosted at the Greene Block + Studios in downtown Waterville, 12 companies spanning various industries such as healthtech, outdoor recreation, artificial intelligence, and clean energy technologies competed for the cash prize. The judging criteria included the company’s pitch delivery, capital strategy, innovation, team, and potential economic, environmental, or social impact. The 16-week program guided startups through a targeted curriculum to execute their project plans, and each cohort company worked with a curated board of local and national mentors from various industries. Seminar topics included utilizing public-private sector grants and economic incentives, customer acquisition strategies, capital planning, and intellectual property evaluation.

“The Dirigo Labs Accelerator Program is a valuable resource for local start-ups and entrepreneurs, providing essential guidance and coaching to help them succeed,” said Dan Tilton, executive vice president of sales and customer relations for Skowhegan Savings Bank. “These businesses bring innovative ideas to life, while creating jobs and contributing to Maine’s economy; we are pleased to congratulate Bernard Hidier and Finsulate as this year’s winner of the $25,000 Skowhegan Savings pitch prize.”

The audience choice award was presented to Oak AI, an applied ethics company utilizing AI to help users record, share, and apply personal values as they navigate the internet. 

“This year’s cohort showcased incredible innovation and dedication, highlighting the vibrant entrepreneurial spirit in our community,” said Susan Ruhlin, managing director of Dirigo Labs. “We are grateful for Skowhegan Savings Bank’s generous sponsorship, which makes it possible to support startups like Finsulate that are driving positive environmental and economic change. Congratulations to all the participants for their hard work and inspiring contributions. We look forward to seeing their continued success and the positive impact they will have on Maine’s economy and beyond.”

For startups and potential mentors interested in learning more about Dirigo Labs, please visit

About Dirigo Labs:
Dirigo Labs is a regional startup accelerator based in Waterville, Maine. With a mission to grow the greater Waterville area’s digital economy by supporting entrepreneurs building innovation-based companies, the Dirigo Labs ecosystem brings together people, resources, and organizations to ensure the successful launch of new startups. Dirigo Labs operates under Central Maine Growth Council and is supported by several organizations, academic institutions, and investment firms. To learn more about Dirigo Labs, please visit

About Skowhegan Savings:
Skowhegan Savings Bank has been dedicated to strengthening Maine’s families, businesses, and communities by providing personalized and competitive banking services to the regions they serve for 150 years. An independent mutual savings bank based in Skowhegan, our mission is to provide customers with exceptional service in an innovative banking environment that effectively and efficiently puts the financial needs of the customer first. Skowhegan Savings takes pride in not only being a great place to bank but also a great place to work. For more information about Skowhegan Savings, please visit or contact our Customer Service line at 800.303.9511.

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