News & Events


ERIE, PA – At a networking event held in Ben Franklin’s office in Knowledge Park on May 9, 2019, the finalists in Ben Franklin’s StARTup Contest were announced.  This year’s contest challenged tech-entrepreneurs located in Northwest PA, to develop new “game-changing” products, processes, or techniques in creative spaces.

With up to $50,000 on the line, in the two months that the contest was running, more than 600 people visited the landing page for to check out the application process.  Jill Edwards, the Program’s Executive Director, commented, “This was the first time we sponsored a contest that focused on the intersection between art and technology, and we were pleased at the great response. With so many strong applications, it was a challenge to identify just a handful of finalists.”

The eight finalists listed below will “pitch” their business ideas to a panel of independent judges on June 20, 2019 at Room 33 located at 1033 State Street in Erie, PA.  A networking reception will follow.

  • David Hunter with ASAPmaps has developed a service that connects with your Google My Business listing to help you reach more customers and show up when it counts.
  • Joel Marz with Efficient Nomad is providing the architectural design, engineering, and construction of custom, unique, and economical, single family homes.
  • Andrew Stanko with Full Circle Designed has developed a process for using plastic waste in the creation of consumer goods.
  • Matthew Harris with Character: Be About It is developing a learning management system/curriculum that targets at-risk youth.
  • Jennifer Dennehy with Kinetic Creativity will develop a web-based program that allows teaching artists to submit art infused curricula to K-12 school districts.
  • Sarah Moody with Maggie Knox Western is opening an interdisciplinary center in Little Italy that will allow access to equipment used in a variety of creative processes.
  • Brian Wilson with Wakefield Interactive has developed video games that offer stories from other cultures.  His most recent release is, “Where the Bees Make Honey”.
  • Matthew White with Whitethorn Digital is a ten-year veteran of the gaming industry and has shipped more than 20 titles to millions of gamers worldwide.

In addition to the cash, the winner will receive: three months of free co-working space in Knowledge Park; a one-year pass to seminars offered by Ben Franklin’s eMarketing Learning Center; a free consult on protecting intellectual property from Jonathan D’Silva, the founder of MMI Intellectual Property, and access to SEMrush, a powerful and versatile competitive intelligence suite for online marketing

About Ben Franklin:

The largest early-stage investor in our region, Ben Franklin Technology Partners/CNP, (an initiative of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and funded by the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority) provides investment capital, operational assistance, and business support services to emerging tech-based companies and small, existing manufacturers to create and retain jobs in Pennsylvania.  Visit Ben Franklin’s website at or phone the Erie office at 814-898-6650.