Local tech entrepreneurs vie for top prize at Ben Franklin event

The stakes are high as seven area tech startups prepare to compete on Thursday for the top prize in the final event of an eight-week-long business boot camp.

The boot camp was organized by TechCelerator @ SouthCentral, part of the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central & Northern PA regional office.
During Thursday’s capstone event, seven entrepreneurs will pitch their concepts to a panel of three “mock investors,” all of whom are local business professionals, said Ross Gibson-Delasin, the southcentral region’s assistant director. The judges will then decide who will receive $10,000 in startup funding. The prize could go to one participant could, or it could be split between two people.
Over the past eight weeks, the TechCelerator participants, chosen from a pool of applicants, developed their pitches, refined their business models, honed in on their target markets, and learned about business finance, operational and legal basics. 
The competitors are:

  • Scott Russo of Synolus Medical (Adams County), which is developing an on-body device for insulin-dependent Type II diabetics to receive medication more simply and conveniently.
  • Chi Pham of Majis (Cumberland County), creator of an interactive collaboration platform for group project management.
  • Naga Goli of Mobinfy (Cumberland County), an “end-to-end mobile solution for field data collection,” a press release said.
  • Mike Bridgman of MajorMega (Lancaster County), creator of immersive experiences designed by combining custom software, hardware, and virtual reality components.
  • Tyler Stoltzfus of Green Matters Natural Dye Co. (Lancaster County), providing a natural dyeing process for clothing and fiber brands.
  • Rich Everts of Sugey One (Lancaster County), a device that relies on artificial intelligence to help people with disabilities at home.
  • Vince Moley of Kleancierge (York County), a mobile platform to provide billing, scheduling, marketing and communication services for vehicle detailers.

An initiative of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and funded by the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority, State College-based Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central & Northern PA regularly holds free boot camps around the region. The southcentral regional TechCelerator has been holding them twice a year since 2011, Gibson-Delasin said, in Harrisburg, York, Lancaster and Cumberland County.
Other chapters exist around the state, as well. The goal is to cultivate opportunities for aspiring tech entrepreneurs.
In that respect, boot camp participants learn to evaluate the market value and competitiveness of their concepts. If they choose not to move ahead based on those results, that’s considered an “early-fail success,” Gibson-Delasin said.
Continued one-on-one mentoring and support from Gibson-Delasin and other portfolio managers after the boot camp are also key to the TechCelerator’s model.
“We have a fantastic startup ecosystem that continues to develop and evolve in the southcentral region,” Gibson-Delasin said. 
Anyone interested in learning more is encouraged to attend Thursday’s event.
The event is free and open to the public, but seats must be reserved, as space is limited. It will be held at the Ben Franklin Technology Partners/CNP Harrisburg office at 1010 N. Seventh St., Suite 304.
Contact Ross Gibson-Delasin at (717) 948-6716 or rossgibson@psu.edu to register.

Becca Oken-Tatum
Becca Oken-Tatum is the web editor for the Central Penn Business Journal. She also coordinates and writes for CPBJ's monthly Young Professionals e-newsletter. Email her questions, comments and tips at btatum@cpbj.com.

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