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PR: Two Waterville-Based Startups Awarded MTI Software Development Grants

June 16, 2020

Christian Krohg and Katharine Dougherty of Easy Eats celebrate winning a Little Gig pitch competition earlier this year

WATERVILLE – Maine Technology Institute (MTI) has awarded software development grants to two Waterville startups, Easy Eats and Sklaza, to support their respective expansions across Maine’s college campuses. Both startups are founded by current Colby College students and address pain points in students’ experiences with food delivery and the sale of furniture, books, and other college necessities. 

Easy Eats, founded by Christian Krohg and Katharine Dougherty, is an app-based food delivery service platform that delivers college students’ orders to their dorm doors. By employing college students who have access to campus dormitories as delivery drivers, Easy Eats offers a more convenient option to traditional delivery services. Relaunched in early 2020, the app has logged over 1,000 orders and 5,000 app downloads. 

“Not only does Easy Eats fulfill a demand for an easier delivery experience, but it also represents an opportunity to improve the connection between Colby students and Waterville-area restaurants,” explains co-founder Katharine Dougherty. “With the MTI funding, we look forward to making technical improvements based on customer feedback, scaling our efforts, and bringing these benefits to students and restaurateurs all across Maine.”

Josh Kim of Sklaza presents during the Greenlight Maine Collegiate Challenge

Sklaza, a name derived from “school plaza”, is an online marketplace devoted exclusively to college students and the inexpensive sale of IONS, Items Only Needed by Students. Founded by Josh Kim, the marketplace tackles overconsumption, encourages recycling and environmental sustainability, and avoids the pitfalls of public marketplaces that, while marketed to college students, allow non-student sellers to post items unrelated to student needs. Launched in February 2020 on the Colby College campus, Sklaza has logged over $10,000 in transactions and over 800 student users.

“I’m really excited to use the MTI funding to bring Sklaza to my next college campuses in the fall,” explains founder Josh Kim. “After the resoundingly positive response I received from the Colby community, I knew that college students everywhere need to have an online marketplace just for them.”

For both startups, the MTI funding announcement coincides with financial and promotional success within Maine’s entrepreneurship ecosystem. Easy Eats is a current finalist in Greenlight Maine’s Collegiate Challenge pitch competition and a recent winner of the February Little Gig competition, a preliminary round to the Big Gig at Orono’s UpStart Center for Entrepreneurship. Sklaza was a semifinalist in Greenlight Maine’s Collegiate Challenge, and founder Josh Kim has made additional TV appearances. 

Both located in downtown Waterville at Bricks Coworking & Innovation Space, Easy Eats and Sklaza are seeking additional team members. Easy Eats is hiring a full-time software developer, and Josh Kim of Sklaza is seeking a partner who is a college student with web development expertise. 

“Technology and innovation is a key area of growth for downtown Waterville and the mid-Maine region, and the success of Easy Eats and Sklaza is both a testament to their founders’ hard work and to the support of incredibly dynamic partners including MTI, Bricks Coworking & Innovation Space, and Colby College,” says Garvan Donegan, director of planning and economic development at Central Maine Growth Council. “The funding, infrastructure, education, and tech talent provided by these partners have been essential to building an innovation hub that attracts entrepreneurs and serves as their launching pad.”

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Last modified: July 6, 2020

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