It was similar to the popular television show American Idol, except with entrepreneurs instead of vocalists. The Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania hosted “Ben Franklin Venture Idol” on Tuesday, November 16th.
Three early-stage company entrepreneurs seeking funding presented pitches to a panel of investors and the audience. Led by Venture Idol emcee, Richard Fox, Managing Director, Cross Atlantic Capital Partners, the investors asked questions, the audience voted, and CEWA Technologies was named the 2010 winning “Ben Franklin Venture Idol.” Paul Eisenhuth, CEO of CEWA, accepted the prize of a $5,000 cash investment in his company. HealthOneMed and Aware Pro, Inc. also competed and received cash investments.
CEWA Technologies designs and manufactures point concentrator solar dishes. By using existing materials in new ways and a unique design, its dish can provide 30kW of thermal energy at prices that are less than existing technologies, and are competitive with fossil fuels without relying on government subsidies. The solar dish is easy to install, operate, and maintain in a wide variety of applications and terrains, and can be aligned much faster than competing dishes. The product can be used for space or process heating, HVAC, or electricity generation. It will be sold to industrial, institutional, and utility customers.
CEWA Technologies is a resident company in Ben Franklin TechVentures. Owned and operated by the Ben Franklin Technology Partners, Ben Franklin TechVentures is located on Lehigh University’s campus.
Ben Franklin Venture Idol presenters were critiqued by three institutional investors:
- Loren D. Danzis, Chair of Screening Committee, Delaware Crossing Angel Group
- Michael J. Gutch, Ph.D., Director, H.I.G. Ventures
- David Nevas, Business Development Associate, Edison Venture Fun
Approximately 200 guests attended the day-long Ben Franklin Venture Idol event, the theme of which was funding “winning” entrepreneurship. This event illustrates a significant way in which early-stage entrepreneurs seek and obtain seed capital. It was held at Iacocca Hall on Lehigh’s campus.
The day began with a “speed dating” session in the morning. Twenty-four pre-selected companies delivered multiple rounds of two-minute “elevator pitches” to individual institutional and angel investors. Two minutes, about the length of an elevator ride, provided just enough time for the company CEOs to pique the interest of investors. To help improve the companies’ chances to obtain funding, Steve Bowman, known as the “Pitch Doctor,” helped companies seeking funding to prepare.
The event was hosted by Fred Beste, Managing Partner, Mid-Atlantic Venture Funds, Bethlehem. The evening included opportunities for guests to network with exhibiting early-stage entrepreneurs, private investors, and representatives of venture capital firms.