News & Events

Two Local Erie Startups win Ben Franklin’s TechCelerator Business Bootcamp

On March 20, 2024, the Samuel P. Black III Knowledge Center in Penn State Behrend’s Knowledge Park buzzed with excitement as the Ben Franklin TechCelerator in Erie Finale unfolded, marking the culmination of a transformative 10-week program aimed at nurturing entrepreneurial talent in the Erie region. Eventive AI (Erin Kerner & Barry Snyder), an AI-powered platform for personalized event management solutions, emerged as the first-place winner, securing $10,000 in funding. PureLine Putting (Michael Irvin), creators of a revolutionary putting aid for golfers, clinched the runner-up position, walking away with $5,000 to further develop their product.

Pictured left to right: Barry Snyder, Erin Kerner, Bob Dornich (TechCelerator Coach), Michael Irvin

“We are thrilled to witness the success of these promising startups and their potential to drive economic growth in the Erie region,” remarked Brian Slawin, Portfolio Manager for Ben Franklin CNP. “Their dedication and ingenuity exemplify the vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem thriving in our community.”

Maggie Horne, Director of the Gannon Small Business Development Center (SBDC), echoed similar sentiments, emphasizing the importance of collaborative initiatives like the TechCelerator program in fostering innovation and supporting local entrepreneurs.

We extend our sincere appreciation to all the participants of the 2024 Ben Franklin TechCelerator in Erie for their dedication, hard work, and innovative ideas. The following companies contributed to the success of this year’s program:

  • AI (Karl Cadet and Sathish Pammi) – Utilizing Big Five personality traits and AI algorithms, Bodha.AI provides a comprehensive solution for performance measurement and job matching.
  • Brokenstraw Outdoors (Jeremiah Pfadt) – Introducing the BOSS shooting rail for hunters, providing stability and safety in any hunting scenario.
  • Erie Applications (Jacob DeHart) – Addressing content creation challenges for businesses by leveraging local talent and top-of-the-line equipment and software.
  • Hikes and Hoses (Lisa Hansen) – Offering eco-friendly outdoor gear made from recycled fabrics and firehose materials.
  • Hydrant Care (John Fink) – Large-scale deployment of IoT sensors on fire hydrants for enhanced safety and monitoring.
  • Premier Manufacturing – d.b.a Zenedge (Marva Morris) – Zenedge is revolutionizing the energy drink market by enhancing packaging, introducing new flavors, innovating the formula, and prioritizing healthier ingredients.

The Ben Franklin TechCelerator in Erie is presented by the Erie County Gaming and Revenue Authority (ECGRA), led by Perry Wood and in partnership with the Gannon Small Business Development Center (SBDC) led by Maggie Horne.

About Ben Franklin Technology Partners: Ben Franklin Technology Partners is an initiative of the PA Department of Community & Economic Development, funded by the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority. For nearly 40 years, Ben Franklin has been providing investment capital, business support services, and operational assistance to emerging tech startups and small manufacturers.

About the TechCelerator: The Erie TechCelerator program is a 10-week virtual business “boot camp” designed to assist inventors and 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.

About the Small Business Development Center at Gannon University: The Small Business Development Center at Gannon University offers no-cost, confidential consulting services for small businesses and entrepreneurs looking to start a business. All we ask is that you bring an open mind and a desire to gain the extra edge that will separate your business from the rest. Learn more at

About The Erie County Gaming and Revenue Authority (ECGRA): An impact investor, ECGRA’s mission is to elevate Erie County by empowering nonprofits and small businesses toward economic and community development. Since February 2008, ECGRA has invested more than $55 million in Erie County turning gaming revenue into transformative investments in Erie County, PA.