EthosGen, LLC, Wilkes-Barre, won Ben Franklin Venture Idol, hosted by the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania, on Thursday evening, November 20. The event was held at the Innovation Institute in Ben Franklin TechVentures®, the award-winning technology incubator/post-incubator on Lehigh University’s Mountaintop Campus.
Ben Franklin Venture Idol is like a cross between Shark Tank® and American Idol®, but with entrepreneurs and investors instead of vocalists and celebrities. The event illustrates a significant way in which early-stage entrepreneurs seek and obtain seed capital.
Approximately 250 guests attended the sold-out Venture Idol, which included pre- and post-event executive networking receptions. Eight entrepreneurs were selected as competitors. In addition to EthosGen, the 2014 Ben Franklin Venture Idol competitors were: JUJAMA, Inc., Scranton; Map Decisions, LLC, Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem; Medtrics Lab, Lewisburg; MyNetwork, LLC, Bethlehem; Orbweaver Sourcing, LLC, Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem; Skaffl, LLC, Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem; and TSG Software, Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem.
Three of the eight start-up technology companies: EthosGen, JUJAMA, and TSG Software, earned their way to finalist status in a round of judging in the afternoon of November 20th. The Ben Franklin Venture Idol Finalist Selection was presented by the Lehigh University MBA program and the Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship.
Following a networking session beginning at 5:30 PM, the evening event began with a keynote address by Stephen Tang, MBA, Ph.D., President and CEO of the University City Science Center, Philadelphia. The three company finalists then pitched their ventures to investors and the audience. Also presenting but not competing was CodeMyClass, the winner of Lehigh Valley Tech’s Startup Weekend that was held November 14th through 16th, also at Ben Franklin TechVentures.
After short critiques from the panel of investors, the audience members “funded” the companies, crowdfunding style. With $100 of “Ben Bucks,” each guest distributed his or her “investment dollars” in whole or part among the three finalists. Ben Franklin will award $15,000 in real dollars to the companies based on the audience vote. In addition to a cash investment, the winning company will receive a start-up package from Award Sponsor Altitude Marketing, which includes a revamped website, and a branding and messaging upgrade.
EthosGen is revolutionizing the $1 billion renewable-energy market through a patented Thermal Energy to Electric Power System that captures and converts waste heat into scalable on-site electrical power. EthosGen’s commercial, industrial, and defense end-users experience the highest energy costs and most critical energy resiliency challenges, including energy storage and demand response. Equipment and manufacturing processes create waste heat that is significantly underutilized. EthosGen’s system leverages the waste heat produced by generators, industrial manufacturing equipment, geothermal systems, biomass, and solar thermal applications to create electricity. Ben Franklin Technology Partners invested a total of $314,500 in EthosGen.
The evening’s investor panelists were:
Kris Jones, Managing Partner, KBJ Capital
Stephanie Olexa, Founder, Lead to the Future
Doug Petillo, General Partner, Leading Edge Ventures
Michele Zujkowski, Venture Consultant
Chad Paul, Ben Franklin Technology Partners President and CEO, hosted Ben Franklin Venture Idol. Fred Beste, CEO of the General Partners, Mid-Atlantic Venture Funds and Ben Franklin Technology Partners Board Chairman, was the emcee.
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Chad Paul, President and CEO of Ben Franklin Technology Partners; and Ben Franklin Venture Idol finalists: Bob Brown, CEO of TSG Software; Nadia Dailey, President and CEO of JUJAMA, Inc., and James Abrams, CEO of EthosGen.