Michelle DeBlois, right, and Kathryn Lariviere of Literacy Tech Inc. pitch their idea for a literacy tracking tool to the fourth annual Top Gun LA pitch-off at Poland Spring Resort earlier this month. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal file photo Buy this Photo

PORTLAND — ReMo took home the top prize in the 2020 Top Gun Showcase on Wednesday night.

Lewiston Middle School’s Michelle DeBlois and Auburn Middle School’s Kathryn Lariviere — sisters and both seventh and eighth grade teachers — won the $25,000 prize provided by the Maine Technology Institute to continue developing their literacy app.

Their company, Literacy Tech Inc., won the Top Gun LA regional two weeks ago and pitched-off against eight other regional winners in the Maine Center for Entrepreneurs’ annual event.

“It was kind of automatic,” DeBlois said. “I have been practicing for so long, as soon as I started, it kind of took over.”

When the winner was announced, “we were in shock, and excited, and just very grateful,” Lariviere said. “We’ve been working incredibly hard and this is something we’re really passionate about with our students and encouraging their reading and wanting them to love to read. This feels like we’re finally getting closer to getting there.”

The ReMo app, created with web application developer Peter Jannet, will allow teachers to track the flow of books in and out of the classroom along with students’ progress and also help lesson planning.

It’s scheduled to launch in January 2021. The MTI funds will allow them, in part, to “do a lot of integrating with schools and school districts,” DeBlois said. “We’re going to restructure our database and allow for data analytics. Currently right now we only sell to individual educators, so in January we’ll be able to sell to schools and also have a parent view for the app, so parents can get it at home.”

Scott Benson, economic development director at the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Top Gun LA organizer, said he was “thrilled beyond imagination for Literacy Tech.” They were Top Gun LA’s first pitch winners in four years of offering the program locally.

“I am so proud of Michelle and Katie and their work to bring ReMo to their fellow educators across Maine and throughout the country,” he said. “It’s been a privilege to work with them. Michelle gave her very best presentation yet, as the competition was extremely strong.”

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