News & Events

Congratulations to Tony Biddle and Benjamin Hutchinson!

Altoona, PA – The Ben Franklin TechCelerator@Altoona, an important component of the Startup Alleghenies initiative,, enabled six entrepreneurs to participate in an intensive 8-Week Business Startup Boot Camp.  The Program offered those from the community, who had a business idea they wanted to explore, the opportunity to receive entrepreneurial training in a fun, relaxed environment at Catalyst Space in downtown Altoona.

On Tuesday, March 13, 2018, those six entrepreneurs pitched their business concepts to a team of local judges for the chance to win a cash prize of up to $10,000 from Ben Franklin.  Attended by nearly 50 community and economic development partners as well as family members, the graduation/pitch event was the culmination of hours of hard work by all the individual participants who during the eight weeks also became friends and part of an overall supportive team.

A three-member panel of judges from the community made the decision to award two cash prizes:

  • First Place and $7,500 was awarded to Tony Biddle, with Site Rite, who has developed a clip-on rear site for hand guns that dramatically improves accuracy. Mr. Biddle will use the prize money to further market his product and develop additional sizes.
  • Second Place and $2,500 was awarded to Benjamin Hutchinson, with Your Reptile Company, who has a concept to create a way to protect pet reptiles through proper caging techniques. Hutchinson will use the prize money to develop a prototype.

“Two area entrepreneurs took home a check from Ben Franklin’s TechCelerator@Altoona.  But, this is a rigorous process, and everyone who participated is a winner in our book.” – Bob Dornich, Program Manager

 Other Presenters Included: Mark Kasterko, with M&T Arms, who has developed a device for securing an officer’s weapon during an incident where he/she needs to restrain a perpetrator; Daniel Bowers, with Advanced Diabetes Technologies,  who is developing an app that allows for the safe and easy monitoring of blood glucose; Jobe Matula, with The LiveFirst Company, who has developed a product that protects pets from accidental poisoning, and Joey DiGangi, with AssureTech, who is developing a technology that helps people with food allergies keep their medication easily on-hand.