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ERIE, PAAt a standing room only event on August 21, 2019 in Knowledge Park at Penn State Erie, five entrepreneurs, who had been participating in an intensive, ten-week startup program, made pitches to a panel of local judges in hopes of taking home a cash prize of $10,000. The judges ultimately chose two winning teams: Hunter Klobucar and Tyler Waltenbaugh with Fish Gods, a company that is leading an environmental movement among fishing enthusiasts, and Michael Gibilterra, Michael Paul, and Ryan Hutchinson with HPG Industries, who developed a patent-pending technology which allows for the printing of custom, flexible parts on demand. Each team received a check for $5,000 to help further their product and business development.

The BF TechCelerator, which is a 10-Week Business Startup Boot Camp, has been offered in various locations of Ben Franklin’s 32-county footprint for nearly eight years. Bob Dornich, the Program Director, commented, “The judges had a very difficult time choosing just one winner, as all the presentations were top notch.  It’s obvious that everyone worked very hard over the ten weeks, and the Erie area should be proud of these emerging entrepreneurs. Many thanks to ECGRA for making this opportunity available with their funding support.”

Other members of the cohort included Joel Marz with Efficient Nomad, a company that designs and builds alternative style communities; Matt Gawlik and Nate Carlin with Hippoh, who plans to develop a national platform that links a community of patrons to local happy hours and promoted events, and Rachel Miller with Blue Serenity who has created a line of unique, customizable products that help alleviate social anxiety.

About the Ben Franklin TechCelerator @Erie

With support from the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority, Knowledge Park at Penn State Erie and business mentors provided by Ben Franklin and Gannon’s Small Business Development Center, the TechCelerator is helping to create an environment that allows those who have considered starting a tech-business to explore the likelihood of success with the benefit of professional guidance. Emerging entrepreneurs who participate in business startup boot camps are more likely to make an educated decision on how and when to move forward with their business concept while learning about how to apply for startup funding.