With a laser focus, a clear grasp of its market, realistic goals and a strategy for achieving them, Bethlehem's Pivitec
has emerged as the 2013 Ben Franklin Venture Idol.
The company, which develops, manufactures and markets software for live professional audio productions, competed against 10 finalists to wow a live audience and a panel of investors to win the title at a late November event billed as "a cross between Shark Tank and American Idol." Hosted by the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania
, the evening was also the region's first in-person crowdfunding event.
Tom Knesel, Pivitec's president and co-founder, says his company has grown steadily since its founding in 2010. For the first few years, supported by about $290,000 in BFTP investments, Pivitec focused on research and development. It started shipping small quantities of product in late 2012 and is now manufacturing and shipping a line of five products to domestic and international markets. (World Electronics
in Reading is Pivitec's contract manufacturer.)
A musician with an engineering background, Knesel saw the opportunity to replace extensive cables and "big, ugly boxes" onstage with software and wireless mobile devices. Pivitec's primary market so far has been theatrical venues and houses of worship – itself an $8 billion U.S. market.
Now Knesel is looking to leverage Pivitec's technology into other markets – convention and conference centers, recording studios, airports – a move that could grow Pivitec's market opportunity to $18 billion worldwide. The company, a resident at Ben Franklin TechVentures
, employs three full-timers; Knesel says Pivitec is now transitioning from engineering positions to building a sales force and could potentially add as many as five new jobs in the next year.
In the final round of judging, Pivitec completed against Bethlehem's Cerora
, a healthcare information technology firm, and Hawley's eVendor Check
, which provides high-tech, vendor-selection tools.
Source: Tom Knesel, Pivitec
Writer: Elise Vider