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From Maxwell Smart's shoephone to SolePower, a Pittsburgh startup with a power-generating insole

In the 1960s, Agent Maxwell Smart’s shoephone was a high-tech marvel. Now a Pittsburgh startup is taking the concept to the next step with an insole that charges cellphones as you walk.
 
SolePower is the brainchild of Hahna Alexander and Matt Stanton, recent Carnegie Mellon grads, who, in less than a year, are AlphaLab graduates, ready to begin testing of  a functional prototype. They’ve attracted the interest of the military (as a potential market) and national media and have been finalists in two national competitions. In less than two weeks, their Kickstarter campaign was more than halfway to its $50,000 goal and the company, which employs six fulltime, is about to move into its own offices in Pittsburgh.
 
The company is moving quickly to commercialization, and Stanton expects to be able to accept orders no later than December 2014.
 
SolePower’s patent-pending technology captures the energy in a step normally lost to the surrounding environment and converts it into usable electrical power for mobile electronic devices such as cellphones and GPS. The mechanism is embedded within a waterproof insole that can be slipped into any shoe. The power generated is stored in an external battery and accessed via micro or mini USB ports. The user does not need to remove the insole, and does not need to attach their electronic devices to their footwear.
 
Alexander and Stanton have identified several potential markets, starting with  outdoor enthusiasts, a $7 billion market. “They’re often off the grid for long periods time, but need their cellphones, GPS and compasses,” says Alexander.
 
For the military, the device offers potential to charge an array of electronics, while significantly lightening the load that servicepeople have to carry on their backs. Similarly, the product has huge potential in developing nations, where electrical service is often  so unreliable that cellphones are sometimes sold with solar collectors.
 
Sources: Hahna Alexander and Matt Stanton, SolePower
Writer: Elise Vider
 
 
 
 

Global expansion makes Gardners’ Zeigler Brothers National Exporter of the Year

Brothers Ty and LeRoy Zeigler set aside orchestra careers to run a water-powered grist feed mill near Gettysburg in 1935. Today the third-generation Zeigler Bros. is still growing, bolstered by its highly successful export business. So successful, in fact, that the company, which specializes in the formulation and manufacture of specialty feeds, has been named the U.S. Small Business Administration’s National Exporter of the Year.
 
Tim Zeigler, vice president for sales and marketing, says Zeigler began exporting in the 1970s, when it moved from producing commodity feeds to exploring niche markets. “One of these markets, aquaculture, has grown exponentially over the last 30 years, primarily outside of the U.S. Our franchise program was introduced in 1986 in Panama to provide nutrition and processing technologies to local aquaculture markets. From that point on, we developed a host of innovative new products and technologies to support an industry, which today represents a substantial portion of the world’s seafood and overall food supply.”
 
Exports helped Zeigler recover from a devastating plant fire in 2007. In the last three years, Zeigler says, sales have increased over 65% with exports a key factor. Today Zeigler exports to over 40 countries in Latin America, West Africa and Southeast Asia. Its franchise program has active operations at two locations in Mexico and a third plant in Ecuador is scheduled for startup later this year.

Zeigler advises small and mid-sized companies, who often think that international markets are too complicated, to go for it. “Our local Kutztown Small Business Development Center was a vital component in steering us through the many mazes of doing business internationally. It also takes persistence, patience, and people who [aren’t] hesitant to reach out to visit and understand global markets.”
 
Zeigler also supports an active R&D program for new product development. “Just this year,” Zeigler reports, “we have installed a new, state-of-the-art extruder system for the manufacture of custom feeds for a variety of animals.”
 
Zeigler, based in Gardners, employs  64 full-timers and expects to add 6 or 7 new positions by year’s end.
 
Source: Tim Zeigler, Zeigler Bros.
Writer: Elise Vider

Agricultural innovation and entrepreneurism blossom at Penn State

A growing global population, economic and environmental challenges, and an escalating domestic demand local, high-quality food – never has the climate been more conducive to entrepreneurism and innovation in agriculture, says Mark Gagnon.
 
Gagnon leads Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences’ Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program, which just got a big boost with a $200,000 gift from donors Earl and Kay Harbaugh.
 
Started in 2006, mostly to support agricultural extension projects, the program has grown to support research, development and commercialization of projects by students and faculty, says Gagnon.
 
The program consists of entrepreneurship-focused classes, competitions including the Ag Business Springboard student competition, the Harbaugh Entrepreneurship Forum, which brings entrepreneurial leaders to campus to inspire students and faculty, mentoring and more.
 
Undergrads are actively developing innovative products and services, often working across disciplines. At the most recent Ag Springboard in November 2012, a student team won $5,000 to continue work on a mobile aquaponic greenhouse suitable for restaurant kitchens. The second place team won $1,000 for its work on a new type of poultry feeder, soon to be tested on live birds.
 
Other student work includes specialized greenhouses for microgreens and new food products (including one being worked on in Brazil this summer). A faculty team is at work on a new approach to feeding cover crops, used to build more organic content in the soil.
 
Looking ahead, Gagnon sees continued growth for the program; “There is such a demand for what we do in ag science. We have the challenge of feeding the world and boosting living standards.”
 
Source: Mark Gagnon, Harbaugh Entrepreneurship Scholar, College of Agricultural Sciences’ Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program, Penn State
Writer: Elise Vider
 
 
 
 
 
 

Small is big: PA businesses rack up accolades in National Small Business Week

The 50th annual National Small Business Week starts Monday and a group of Pennsylvania businesses, businesspeople and development centers are being cited for their contributions to the Commonwealth’s economy and their commitment to their local community and region.  
 
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) National Small Business Week Awards recognize small businesses on a variety of levels including growth of employees, increase in sales, sound financial performance, response to adversity and community contributions.
 
The big enchilada is Zeigler Bros of Gardners, which was named national exporter of the year, the top SBA award for exports. (See accompanying story.)
 
Elsewhere in the SBA’s Philadelphia district, the Widener University SBDC  in Chester won accolades for excellence and innovation, also picking up a regional award covering Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Washington DC and West Virginia. Gresham's Chophouse  in Hawley was named Eastern PA’s family business of the year and David Wise II, owner of G.S. Madison  (owner two 1-800-GOT-Junk? franchises) and BOXAROO  in Reading was named small businessperson of the year.
 
Across the state, Pittsburgh SBA district winners were: Clarion University SBDCGuy Chemical Company of Somerset, exporter of the year, and Jonathan Miller of Dimples LLC in Ashville, which makes software to save printer ink and toner, as young entrepreneur of the year.
 
The Widener SBDC and Zeigler Brothers will be in Washington DC on June 21 to receive their awards. 
 
Source: Pennsylvania SBDC 
Writer: Elise Vider     
 
 
 

Nine young Philly-area companies share $1.5M+ from Ben Franklin

Fans of raw foods, sports, coupon savings and more, rejoice. Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania (BFTP/SEP), celebrating its 30th anniversary, recently approved $1,550,000 in funding for nine early-stage companies.
 
They are:
AgileSwitch, LLC,  Philadelphia, $250,000 (Ben Franklin previously invested $300,000)
AgileSwitch develops power converter technology to produce useful energy from renewable energy technologies, including solar panels and wind turbines. AgileSwitch's products can be fully customized to meet the needs and demands of virtually any customer application, and are better able to monitor and prevent problems such as overheating.
 
Brad's Raw Foods, Pipersville, $100,000 (Ben Franklin previously invested $100,000) 
Brad's Raw Foods, manufactured with an advanced dehydration technology, offers a line of healthy, crunchy snacks made from dehydrated raw, healthy foods such as fresh vegetables, nuts and seeds. The company is developing other raw food products, including dog treats, onion rings, and zucchini sticks.
 
Cocurrent BioEnergy,  Doylestown, $250,000
Cocurrent BioEnergy is creating alternative solutions to landfills that produce renewable energy at competitive rates. The company's plan is to develop and operate renewable energy assets (which repurpose solid waste into sources of fuel) throughout North America over the next 20-30 years.
 
OneTwoSee (Mobile Reactor, LLC),Philadelphia, $75,000 (Ben Franklin previously invested $300,000)
The OneTwoSee platform is a state-of-the-art suite of technologies that augments sports fans' experiences through any screen. The business-to-business platform is licensed to television broadcasters, online publishers, sports arena owners and smart TV manufactures, allowing them to deliver a rich interactive experience to their audience via their connected devices.
 
Real Food Works, Philadelphia, $175,000
Real Food Works provides customers with a subscription plan of meals that are cooked by local partners, restaurants, caterers and personal chefs and delivered fresh. The meals are mostly plant-based and are targeted to those who want to lose weight, enhance their energy levels or improve their overall health or have special dietary restrictions.
 
Smart Structures, Southampton,$150,000 (Ben Franklin previously invested $230,000)
Smart Structures has developed a system that tests and monitors the health of the nation's physical infrastructure, such as highways, bridges, tunnels and buildings. Its technology can also dramatically alter the cost and time dynamics of traditional evaluation programs, by enabling real-time testing of all foundation elements.
 
SnipSnap App, LLC,  Philadelphia, $100,000 (Ben Franklin previously invested $100,000)
SnipSnap is a mobile phone app for scanning, saving and redeeming printed coupons. The technology allows users to more efficiently and effectively organize their coupons, maximize their savings, and be reminded to use their coupons before expiration dates. They are also able to share their coupons both within their own social networks and with all other SnipSnap users.
 
Telefactor Corp., West Conshohocken, $400,000 (Ben Franklin previously invested $230,450)
An offshoot of Chatten Associates, Telefactor is continuing its growth in explosive ordnance disposal, the process of rendering explosive devices safe. Telefactor is procuring the next-generation advanced robotic systems for the Naval Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology division.
 
TicketLeap, Inc., Philadelphia, $50,000 (Ben Franklin previously invested $525,000)
TicketLeap is an e-commerce, do-it-yourself system for ticketing and registration that enables event organizers to sell tickets to their events online. Services include event registration, event promotion, virtual box office software, and social network integration. The company also provides barcode scanning, instant credit card swiping, customized ticket design and ticket tracking services.
 
Source: BFTP/SEP
Writer: Elise Vider
 
 

Pittsburgh’s AlphaLab Gear proclaims hardware’s turn

Ten or 15 years ago, market forces and tech innovation made it possible for software companies to readily establish themselves. Now, says Ilana Diamond, director of Pittsburgh’s new AlphaLab Gear, it’s hardware’s turn.
 
The new hardware and robotics startup accelerator, one of only a few in the country, is aimed at providing physical product companies (“something you can touch and feel,” says Diamond) with investment, equipment, mentoring and more, all in service of boosting manufacturing, ideally in or around Pittsburgh.
 
Part of the impetus for AlphaLab Gear comes from the changing forces that make it possible, for example, to produce a prototype, which used to take thousands of dollars and months, for pennies and in minutes using a 3D printer. Add access to high-tech equipment in shared workspaces like Pittsburgh’s Tech Shop and crowdfunding, and the potential for hardware startups is significantly altered.
 
AlphaLab Gear will work on the same model at its parent startup accelerator, Innovation Works’ AlphaLab. Companies can choose to receive $25,000 or $50,000 in investment in exchange for 5% or 9%  equity. And AlphaLab Gear companies with a robotics focus will receive investment and help from Startbot, an investment firm specializing in early-stage robotics companies. “Their participation is a recognition that private capital thinks this is a successful model,” says Diamond.
 
AlphaLab Gear is accepting applications for its first cycle and is hearing interest from a wide range of companies that make everything, Diamond says, from medical devices to consumer products to sensors to games.
 
Source: AlphaLab Gear, Ilana Diamond
Writer: Elise Vider

Next 'Big Idea' in Northwest PA to come from six finalists at Ben Franklin Technology Partners event

A Northwest Pennsylvania company tonight will be named winner of Ben Franklin’s BIG IDEA Business Plan Contest. 

The six finalists are:
 
* Direct Allergy, which provides a turnkey service to primary-care doctors for testing, diagnosis, and treatment of patients, especially those in underserved rural areas, who suffer from allergies.

* Adaptmicrosys LLC,  a leading-edge, adaptive semiconductor company that provides higher energy savings, more efficiency, and greatly increased performance in a variety of smart-connected devices.

* reCAP Mason Jars, The Erie-based manufacturer and Amazon top seller of high-quality plastic caps for Mason jars, will develop an app that caters to those interested in using mason jars for creative uses. reCAP was the 2011 winner of the InnovationErieDesign Competition.

* MedicalOpinionCenter.com LLC of Erie, which has developed a unique model that provides the expertise of three medical specialists to be offered as an online medical service.

* Advanced Power Control Solutions LLC, which has developed an innovative coal/natural gas hybrid burner technology that allows compliance with EPA requirements and increases power output from existing coal fired power generation facilities prevalent in Pennsylvania.

* CNG One Source, an Erie maker of natural gas engines for diesel trucks and installs conversions for gas powered fleet vehicles.
  
As you read this, the finalists are participating in a day of entrepreneurial training at the Erie Technology Incubator (ETI) located on the campus of Gannon University.
 
The winner gets $35,000, and six months of residence at ETI, one year free tuition for classes/seminars offered by the eMarketing Learning Center and a free, five-hour consult on intellectual property (IP) from Attorney Jonathan D’Silva with the Erie Law Firm, MacDonald, Illig, Jones, & Britton.
 
Source: Ben Franklin Technology Partners/CNP
Writer: Elise Vider
 
 

TekRidge in Jessup joins ranks of PA tech incubators

The Scranton Lackawanna Industrial Building Company (SLIBCO) cut the ribbon earlier this month at the state's newest technology incubator, the $8.3 million TekRidge Center, located at the Jessup Small Business Center.
 
The new facility will house technology-related companies and provide incubator space to startup and expanding small business ventures in northeastern Pennsylvania.
 
Bedrock Technology, an IT consulting firm, is the first signed tenant and SLIBCO is in negotiations with a biotech company, says Kathryn McDermott of the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce. Altogether, the 45,000-square-foot building can house 11 startups in its incubator space and up to eight anchor tenants.
 
"TekRidge Center is a testament to our commitment to investing in projects that support and foster entrepreneurism," said SLIBCO vice president Andy Skrip in a statement.
 
Besides locating to the brand-new, glass-and-steel building, designed by Hemmler & Camayd of Scranton, tenants are eligible for Keystone Opportunity Expansion Zone (KOEZ) and Keystone Innovation Zone (KIZ) tax benefits through 2020, McDermott says.
 
Source: Kathryn McDermott, Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce
Writer: Elise Vider
 

Ben Franklin Technology Partners of NEPA toasts entrepreneurial and technology achievements

Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania presented its 19th annual Innovation Awards this month, after hearing a few words from economist Todd Buchholz on how creative competition drives success.
 
With that it mind, the 2013 winners are:
 
CyOptics, Inc., Breinigsville for entrepreneurial achievement. A maker of optoelectronics, the company survived difficult economic times by building intellectual property and market share. It was recently acquired for $400 million.
 
Computer Aid, Inc., Allentown, named most successful BFTP incubator graduate. Founded in the early 1980s, CAI has grown from concept to successful operation as a worldwide leader in IT metrics, process and productivity -- "a classic incubator success story," says BFTP.
 
Micro Interventional Devices in Langhorne, which has developed a device used in heart surgery, was honored for product innovation.
 
East Penn Manufacturing Co., Lyon Station, an old-line company that produces and recycles lead-acid batteries, was honored for manufacturing achievement.
 
The partnership award, made to an individual, went to Edward Thompson, a Clarks Summit CPA and "a seasoned finance and accounting advisor to a number of Ben Franklin early-stage clients, [who] is enormously helpful, supportive, and proficient," BFTP says.
 
Source:  Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania

Writer: Elise Vider

TechCelerator Capstone offers tough love to aspiring entrepreneurs

Sometimes, a little tough love is in order for aspiring entrepreneurs. No one knows it better than Pam Martin, executive director of the Ben Franklin TechCelerator program. 
 
"Who is going to buy what you're talking about?" asks Martin. "It's so easy to come up with an idea, it's not so easy to determine if it is [viable]."
 
The TechCelerator Capstone project offers prospective companies eight weeks of rigorous evaluation and a safe environment to test ideas. Seven companies started in this latest round and one dropped out. "We consider that a success," says Martin. "That person has not invaded his retirement or 401K."
 
The remaining six presented their business plans to a panel of judges, who awarded fledgling startup Donors Impact three months of free rent at the TechCelerator incubator in Carlisle, along with mentoring and other perks.
 
Carlton Langley, the entrepreneur behind Donors Impact, an education fundraising software package aimed at colleges and universities, says he emerged encouraged from the Capstone competition. "They challenge you throughout the entire process. They beat you up; they pick you apart to validate your idea. It gives me a whole lot more confidence."
 
Martin says that Langley and Donors Impact impressed the judges with a well-formed business plan, a knowledge of who the customers are and a ready-to-go prototype. During his residency at TechCelerator, Donors Impact will conduct a beta test with Penn State, Langley says.
 
Martin says of about 40 entities that have competed for the Carlisle Capstone in three years, about 25% are actively setting up or conducting business. With continued smarts and perseverance, Donors Impact might join that roster.
 
Sources: Pam Martin, BF TechCelerator and Carlton Langley, Donors Impact
Writer: Elise Vider


DreamIt Health nurtures 10 healthcare startups in Philly

Ten startups are getting a healthy boost as part of DreamIt Health, the first, Philadelphia-based healthcare accelerator.

They are:
• AirCare - a mobile application that helps hospitals prevent readmissions and improve patient outcomes through tele-nursing and patient-specific analytics.
Biomeme - a low-cost, mobile molecular diagnostics device to help point-of-care clinicians and epidemiologists quickly diagnose and track infectious diseases in real-time with smartphones.
Fitly - a service that helps health plans tackle childhood obesity by engaging and motivating at-risk families with game dynamics and convenient delivery of healthy ingredients.
Grand Round Table - an application that helps clinicians rapidly zero in on the right diagnosis for complex cases by intelligently matching the patient's electronic record against millions of other cases from around the world.
Medlio - a mobile application that enables physicians to get paid faster and eliminates paper sign-in forms through a virtual health insurance ID card that instantly syncs information among patient, provider and payer at the point-of-care.
MemberRx - a solution to better contain the cost of pharmaceuticals by enabling selection of the best generic or on-formulary branded drug for a specific patient seamlessly within an electronic medical record system.
•OnShift– an instant communications system for clinicians caring for the same patient and analytics to discover and remove obstacles to effective care delivery and transitions-in-care.
Osmosis - a learning management system for clinicians to better retain and apply knowledge via a web and mobile platform that takes advantage of cutting-edge cognitive techniques.
SpeSo Health - an online analytics platform for identifying and accessing top medical expertise in rare and complex diseases. 
Stat - a web and mobile application that helps providers and payers speed patient transport and lower costs by matching and dispatching idle transportation resources.
 
Each startup gets $50,000, four months of mentoring and coaching, and workspace at Venturef0rth in Philadelphia.
 
DreamIt Health is sponsored by Independence Blue Cross  and Penn Medicine.
 
Source: Independence Blue Cross
Writer: Elise Vider

With a 3D smartphone photo app, Hologram wows at latest Penn State hackathon

 
Just when you thought your smartphone could do everything, along comes Hologram,  an app that allows phone cameras to take 3D photos. Created by Zain Shah, a University of Pittsburgh sophomore, and Ishaan Gulrajani, an MIT freshman, Hologram was top winner at HackPSU 2013, Penn State's recent hackathon.
 
"Though many of the projects were entertaining, there was one hack that had everyone mesmerized—Hologram," hackathon organizer Kathleen Warner wrote in a blog post
 
"The world you and I live in right now is three dimensional," explains Gulrajani in a demo video. "But unfortunately the photos that the cameras on all of our smartphones take exist only in two dimensions. This is so lame!"
 
The app works by basically taking two photos – one with flash and one without. "Areas of the photo, which are dimmer without flash and bright with flash, are closer and areas of the photo, which aren't affected by the flash, are farther away," Gulrajani says.
 
As first-place winner, the Hologram team won an all-expense-paid trip to San Francisco, sponsored by Ready Force, where they'll tour companies including Dropbox and Uber.  
 
The latest HackPSU was Penn State's largest ever, drawing over 150 participants from schools including MIT, the University of Pennsylvania, University of Pittsburgh, University of Michigan and Carnegie Mellon University, reports Warner. The judges included David Rusenko, CEO of Weebly and Steve Huffman, co-founder of Reddit and Hipmunk
 
Source: Kathleen Warner, HackPSU 2013
Writer: Elise Vider

CMU startup PayTango, dancing as fast as it can

Tired of digging through backpacks and messenger bags for their student IDs and debit cards, four Carnegie Mellon seniors started to investigate ways to consolidate all the cards in their wallets and pay with a swipe of a finger.
 
They knew they were onto something when, recalls Brian Groudan, "we heard gasps" while demonstrating at a University of Pennsylvania hackathon last fall.
 
Groudan, Kelly Lau-Kee, Umang Patel and Christian Reyes are all graduating this spring and are partners in PayTango,  a fingerprint-based identification and payment system.
 
In only a few months, PayTango is dancing as fast as it can. Inc. magazine recently named it among America's coolest college start-ups for 2013. Three of the partners spent the first three months of this year at the Silicon Valley Y Combinator accelerator in Mountain View, California, and PayTango has begun to attract serious investor interest. "We didn't plan for this," muses Groudan. "It just sort of happened."
 
The students developed the technology, which marries biometric and card data, in CMU's inaugural Tech Startup Lab Course last fall, taught by Luis von Ahn, known as one of the pioneers of crowdsourcing.
 
PayTango's registration process takes about 20 seconds. Users place two fingers on the terminal's fingerpad, swipe the card they want to register and type in a phone number. Any card with a magnetic strip can be registered – credit, debit, gift, loyalty or ID. On repeat visits, users simply place their fingers on the fingerpad to make payment. The service is paid for through contracts with merchants, and is free for users.
 
The system is being tested at CMU dining locations and Groudan expects to continue to expand its testing there and at other campuses and local businesses, such as gyms. Investor interest is coming from Silicon Valley, but, he adds, "our first customer is CMU and we have very close ties to Carnegie Mellon."
 
Source: Brian Groudan, PayTango
Writer: Elise Vider
 

Calling all tech entrepreneurs: Apply FAST for free boot camp

Listen up, budding tech-based entrepreneurs. The deadline to apply for the next State College 8-Week Boot Camp  for business startups is COB tomorrow, otherwise known as 5pm Friday, April 12.
 
It's worth the scramble. The boot camp, sponsored by TechCelerator@State College, offers a free chance to hear from successful entrepreneurs, business support professionals, and even private and institutional investors on how to develop a solid, fundable business model.
 
The program requires a time commitment of two hours per week on eight successive Tuesdays beginning April 23, from 3 to 5 p.m.
 
There are other perks, too. Ben Franklin’s Transformation Business Services Network and Penn State’s Small Business Development Center staff will provide weekly one-on-one business mentoring. And participants will compete for $10,000 to help get their business off the ground.
 
Last year’s winners were Lin Wang, CEO, and Dr. Tony Jun Huang, CTO, of Ascent Bio-Nano Technologies LLC and Dr. Kevin Irick of SiliconScapes.  Ascent Bio-Nano has developed a chip that can produce three-dimensional focusing of a stream of cells, making it possible for inexpensive portable devices to rapidly screen cells for diseases such as leukemia or HIV. SiliconScapes is developing SmartView, a smart-camera technology that can be attached to retail displays and advertising and is capable of detecting shopper posture, attention and gaze, as well as interactions with the product.
 
“We had these technologies for quite a few years, but before the TechCelerator program we had never thought that we could start a company ourselves to commercialize the technologies. The TechCelerator program has done a great job in inspiring us, coaching us, and making us believe that we can do it," says Huang.
 

 
Source: Don McCandless, TechCelerator@ State College
Writer: Elise Vider

Desperately seeking America's best unknown business

Ardmore's Gregory FCA,  which bills itself as the largest public relations firm in Pennsylvania, and Safeguard Scientifics  of Wayne are on the hunt for the best unknown business in America.
 
"Maybe it's that killer technology startup that has yet to make the radar. Or perhaps it's some new wonder drug that will increase life expectancy. Or could it be that new sustainable business that's doing great financially while doing good for the world," said Gregory CEO Greg Matusky in a blog post.
 
The contest purse comprises $10,000 in cash and a $40,000 PR campaign.
 
The judges include Matusky, Safeguard CEO Stephen T. Zarrilli, Daniel Roitman of Stroll, a Philadelphia-based education e-commerce platform company, and Miles Spencer, an angel investor and co-creator of the reality show Money Hunt.
 
Here’s what they say they're looking for:

* The current operating success, recent growth and future viability of the company.
* The story behind the company and its products or services.
* The company’s current visibility and awareness.
* The likely positive impact of the application of a public relations campaign to the company and its products and services.
* The social shares and number of votes received in support of the company’s nomination as outlined in the contest rules. While this contest is not based on votes or Likes, an applicant’s ability to engage and connect with employees and customers will be considered.
* How well the submission explains why the company should be selected as The Best Unknown Business in America and how it can benefit from exposure.  
 
The contest closes at midnight June 18 and the winner will be announced in July. To learn more and submit an entry, visit Gregory FCA's Facebook page
 
Source: Alicia Buonanno, Gregory FCA
Writer: Elise Vider
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