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Local tech entrepreneurs vie for $50K in Ben Franklin contest

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The competition is fierce for seven budding entrepreneurs and small business owners from Lancaster and Lebanon counties who are participating in Ben Franklin Technology Partner's "Big Idea Contest."

The contest is for anyone planning or developing an innovative product, process or software application, and has  a business in Lancaster and Lebanon counties with sales of less than $500,000.

Winners could snag up to $50,000 for their startups.

Winners also have the potential to get business mentoring, networking opportunities and six months of free membership in the Ben Franklin TechCelerator@TheCandyFactory, a hub that provides business mentoring, tech startup training, professional services and connections and funding opportunities. It is housed at Lancaster co-working space The Candy Factory.

Of the 25 entrepreneurs in Lancaster and Lebanon counties who entered the contest, seven were chosen to move forward.

The finalists will make a pitch Aug. 15 to a panel of local judges at The Candy Factory.

It’s not clear yet how many judges will be on the panel.

Generally, contest organizers look for community volunteers with a background in banking and economic development to be judges, said Liz Wilson, director of marketing for Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central & Northern PA.

The $50,000 grand prize could be split between multiple entrepreneurs, based on the judge's discretion.

"If there is someone who is just a rock star and they want to give the money to just one person, they can," Wilson said.

The participants include:

• James Cosentino with Craft Biotech, which provides easy-to-use analysis tools for the fermentation industry.

• Christopher Moore with Creating Moore LLC, which is developing environmentally friendly technology.

• Henry Yaeger with Integrated Platform Services, which is creating a concierge subscription service for families to manage the care of aging adults.

• Nathan Shea with LabStrux, which offers cyber security software products primarily targeting the Department of Defense.

• Ryan Harris with Noodigs, which is developing a for-sale-by-owner software platform that provides lower fees and comprehensive guidance.

• Keith Landis with Quantified Financial Solutions, which is developing software that allows users to view the outcomes of decisions based on current and future financial projections.

• Carolyn Martin with RIVAL 5 Game, which is developing a number strategy game based on skill and chance for children and adults.

Participants in the "Big Idea Contest" who don’t make the cut may want to refine their pitch and apply to attend Ben Franklin’s boot camp in Lancaster in August or September, Wilson said.

Based in State College, Ben Franklin offers operational assistance and entrepreneurial support to emerging tech-based companies.

It regularly holds free boot camps around the region for aspiring tech entrepreneurs.

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Shelby White

Shelby White covers banking and finance, law and Lancaster County for the Central Penn Business Journal. For tips, email her at swhite@cpbj.com.

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