LEWISTON — The entrepreneurs at Thursday’s Top Gun Pitch-Off breakfast included a former librarian, a longtime coach and two second-generation immigrants. The goal was the same for each of the five individuals or partnerships — to advance to state level of the competition, with a shot at winning the $25,000 grand prize.

Getting there has been a long, hard road.

Malik Hall, winner of Top Gun Pitch-Off is seen at Thursday’s LA Metro Chamber of Commerce breakfast.  Christopher Wheelock/Sun Journal

But it was coach Malik Hall of Teach2M.O.V.E. that took the top prize.

Hall is a former longtime coach who believes Maine’s “hands-off” policy with student athletes leaves a gap in their social, emotional and professional development. He has an existing business but believes it can be scaled up to state and regional level or even a national level and provide students with the support they need to grow and mature and stay involved with athletics.

The Top Gun challenge is similar to the one posed in the popular television show “Shark Tank.” Pitch your business idea to a panel of judges to see if anyone will bite. The stakes are not quite as high, the atmosphere is a lot less tense, but for the entrepreneurs making the pitches, it’s everything they’ve been working for, in some cases for years.

The concepts pitched before the LA Metro Chamber of Commerce at this year’s Top Gun Pitch-Off ranged from a mobile car detailing business, to a service teaching seniors and the less tech-savvy how to navigate the internet, to an existing business that aims to tackle landfill waste from dental floss, to Hall’s mentoring and coaching service targeting student athletes in the off-season, and a brew tour concept trying to get off the ground.


To prepare them, a team of mentors worked with the Top Gun participants for five months, honing their business models, working on practicing their pitches and teaching them about how to grow a business.

The other contestants and their business pitches:

Jodi Breau, Dental Lace Inc.: An existing business with a few employees that assembles and markets a refillable, plastic-free, compostable silk dental floss, with a focus on zero waste and other environmentally friendly products in Maine. The company has attracted the attention of a major supermarket chain, which has indicated it wants to carry her products.

Elizabeth Pajak, Allspeed Tech Tutors: It targets seniors and the less tech-savvy with sessions on how to navigate the internet, get started on mobile banking and tasks online that most of us take for granted. Initial sessions are in-person at senior centers, over 55 communities and private homes.

Diana DeJesus, The Maine Event Brew Tours: The concept is brewery tours where customers are shuttled to and from Lewiston to breweries in the region in a van or bus in central Maine, without worrying about who will be the designated driver. It hits on the lack of availability of ride-hailing services and taxis in some rural areas. The business is in its infancy and faces questions of competition, insurance and liability.

Abdirahman Saeed & Abdinar Mohamed, Black Diamond Detailing: The two enthusiastic young men claim to have the only mobile auto detailing service in Lewiston. Their pricing was decent and the pair are good humored, but they lacked a clear message in their presentation, judges said. Nevertheless it appears to be a solid start in the business world for the young men.


A key component to any business is having a good service or product to sell, a solid sales pitch and it helps to have a dynamic person doing the pitching. One entrepreneur stood out in that department and it’s clear his career path positioned him well.

The runner-up was Jodi Breau of Dental Lace Inc. She will be the alternate to the state finals on May 26.

Hall was not even in the room when the winner was announced and was stunned when another contestant whispered to him, “you won!”

“I am happy that people get it that our athletes are in a crucial phase of social and emotional development,” Malik said. If he wins the final round May 26 and the $25,000 purse, he said he just wants to continue to increase the message in Maine, New England and beyond.

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