On November 3, Play Impossible Corporation in Lewisburg won Ben Franklin Venture Idol, hosted by the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania (BFTP/NEP). The event was held at the Innovation Institute in Ben Franklin TechVentures, BFTP/NEP’s award-winning and LEED Gold-certified technology incubator/post-incubator on Lehigh University‘s Mountaintop Campus.
A cross between Shark Tank and American Idol, the event demonstrates a significant way in which early-stage entrepreneurs seek and obtain seed capital.
Venture Idol, which included pre- and post-event executive networking receptions, was sold out again this year. Eight entrepreneurs were selected as competitors. In addition to Play Impossible, the competitors included Brighton Training Group (Lewisburg); Care Technology Solutions (Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem); Eventuosity (Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem); Howell Benefit Technologies, LLC (Wilkes-Barre); MindMe, Inc. (Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem); Signallamp Health, LLC (Scranton); and webCemeteries.com (Virginville).
Three of the eight startup technology companies — Howell Benefit Technologies, Signallamp Health and Play Impossible Corporation — earned their way to the finals in a round of afternoon judging. Following a networking session, the evening event began with a keynote address by Rolf Schlake, president and CEO of Ben Franklin client Applied Separations, Inc. (Allentown). The three companies then pitched their ventures to investors and the audience.
After short critiques from the panel of investors, the audience members “funded” the startups, crowdfunding style. Armed with $100 of “Ben Bucks,” each guest distributed their “investment dollars” among the three finalists. Ben Franklin will award $15,000 in real dollars to the companies based on the audience vote.
The Play Impossible Gameball is a multi-sport “smart ball” that provides connected games designed to keep five- to 15-year-old boys and girls challenged, entertained and moving with active play. The 10-inch-diameter ball is for indoor and outdoor recreation and will contain sensors, a microcontroller, Bluetooth radio and an ultra-capacitor. It will use a battery-powered, hand-held charger and will connect via Bluetooth to Android and iOS applications.
The evening’s investor panel included Lynn Banta (TecBridge, Great Valley Angel Network), Jeff Davison (Leading Edge Ventures), Paul Martino (Bullpen Capital) and Pat Sandone (serial entrepreneur and former venture capitalist). Chad Paul, Ben Franklin Technology Partners president and CEO, hosted Ben Franklin Venture Idol. Fred Beste, CEO of the General Partners, Mid-Atlantic Venture Funds and Ben Franklin Technology Partners board chairman, was the emcee.
About the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania:
The Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania (BFTP/NEP), an initiative of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and funded by the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority, creates and retains highly paid, sustainable jobs by linking companies with experts, universities, funding, and other resources to help them prosper through innovation.
Since beginning operation, BFTP/NEP has helped to create 16,986 new jobs for Pennsylvania workers and to retain 23,761 existing jobs, to start 482 new companies, and to develop 1,433 new products and processes. Since 2007, BFTP/NEP clients have generated $1.424 billion in follow-on funding. The Pennsylvania Ben Franklin Technology Partners network has returned $3.60 to the state treasury for every $1 invested in the program.
BFTP/NEP owns, manages and is headquartered in Ben Franklin TechVentures, an award-winning business incubator/post-incubator facility on Lehigh University’s campus in Bethlehem, PA. BFTP/NEP also manages the Bloomsburg Regional Technology Center in Bloomsburg.
Lead Photo: Chad Paul, CEO and President, Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania; Kevin Langdon, CTO and Brian Monnin, CEO, Ben Franklin Venture Idol winner Play Impossible Corporation; Fred Beste, Board Chairman, Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Photo by Ryan Hulvat.