On Tuesday, March 28, 2023, Ben Franklin Technology Partners hosted a virtual pitch event for their Food and Beverage TechCelerator. Eight entrepreneurial teams presented their business startup ideas to a panel of judges, friends, and family for a chance to win money to help launch their startup. The judges awarded two prizes, while friends, family, and other participants awarded one additional prize as a “People’s Choice Award.”
Ben Franklin’s Food and Beverage TechCelerator Winners Announced!
First Place of $20,000
Honey Bear Kitchen (Natalie Wallace, Dauphin County)
Honey Bear Kitchen produces super premium non-dairy ice cream, free from 6 of the 8 major food allergens using a proprietary mix of 14% plant-based fat churned with a low overrun, giving it the mouthfeel and creaminess of dairy based ice cream. As of December 2022, Honey Bear’s ice cream roster includes 20 flavors.
Second Place of $10,000
Erie Fungible (Matthew Gacura & Arvin Sharifbaev, Erie County)
Erie Fungible is commercializing a process to grow mushrooms from agricultural/plant compost that is generated from farms, wineries, breweries, and other food producers. This win-win process will utilize otherwise hard to dispose of biodegradables, while producing nutritious, low-cost food which could be beneficial to impoverished communities.
People’s Choice Award of $1,000: KEVO
(Paul McMahon, Erie County)
KEVO is leveraging growing trends in both cold brew consumption and single serve coffee. KEVO has developed a patented, innovative device to make a single cup of cold brew using either coffee pods (also known as K-cups) or regular grounds. It is also unique in that it can use an immersion method with K-cups, producing a fuller bodied flavor.
The other entrepreneurial teams who participated in the Food and Beverage TechCelerator include:
Cancer Recovery Drink (Pete Bordi, Centre County) – the team has developed a cancer recovery beverage made from all natural, organic ingredients and plant-based proteins. Ingredients were selected and combined to help the tongue, throat, stomach, and muscles recover from the effects of cancer treatments.
8fronds Pineapple Eddie Jerk Sauce (Karen Thomas and Adrienne Paul, Erie County) – has created a sauce product that is plant-based, allergen, sugar-free, and free of chemical preservatives that can be used as a marinade or sauce to give meals prepared at home great flavor and interest while saving time.
On Time Delivery (Zee Elhaj & Mike Emerick, Centre County) offers a dispatch solution for restaurants delivering in-house, helping to increase sales by improving delivery time and eliminate interruptions leading to fewer late deliveries. By combining kitchen intelligence and route optimization, On Time Delivery’s technology provides efficient routes for in-house drivers and automatically calls on third party drivers like Ubereats and Doordash when necessary to avoid late orders.
Sarah’s Gourmet Pretzels (Heidi Lushko, Cambria County) – specializes in wholesaling and delivering fine, decadent chocolate gourmet pretzels for the benefit of children rescued out of sex-trafficking and in need of safety and restoration.
Unbaked Flour Company (Hannah Carney, Centre County) – is aiming to make nourishing food more easily accessible. The company is developing probiotic-fortified non-dairy food products that provide benefits from a gut health supplement in a delicious snack. The first of its line of products are no-baked donut holes that are all gluten-free, grain-free, vegan, refined-sugar-free, synbiotic, non-GMO, and sustainably packaged in compostable materials.
A special thank you to Penn State SBDC for their participation and coaching and Gannon SBDC for their participation, coaching, and financial/market research support.
About the Ben Franklin TechCelerator
The 10-week virtual business “boot camp” is designed to assist inventors, students, faculty, and very early-stage entrepreneurs in converting their business ideas into operating ventures. The program helps entrepreneurs explore the likelihood of success, discuss business models and financials with experts, expand their network, engage with other entrepreneurs, and develop a pitch deck for funding opportunities. Over the past ten years, the program has helped create dozens of new tech startups.