Ben Franklin News

Apis Innovation Wins Ben Franklin Venture Idol

 “Ask yourself: what would you want to invest in?” “Keep investors informed, and be transparent on both positive developments and problems in your start-up.” “Investors are selecting you as a management team, so be ready to push back as the experts in your business.” Four Ben Franklin portfolio companies who participated in previous Venture Idol competitions and went on to raise angel and/or venture capital funding shared the fund-raising lessons they learned during the keynote presentation at Ben Franklin Venture Idol.

Apis Innovation (, Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem, won Ben Franklin Venture Idol, hosted by the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania (BFTP/NEP), on Wednesday evening, November 6. The event was held in the Ben Franklin TechVentures® Innovation Institute.

Ben Franklin Venture Idol is a cross between Shark Tank® and American Idol®. The event illustrates a significant way in which early-stage entrepreneurs seek and obtain seed capital.

Apis Innovation develops Internet of Things (IoT) control systems that enable landfills to capture 20% more methane gas from decomposing waste. Globally, methane released from landfills accounts for 65% more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire US transportation industry.

The Apis system can increase a typical customer’s biogas-to-energy revenue and reduce operations and maintenance costs by $25,000. Apis devices replace a costly and inefficient manual process that requires a technician to physically travel around a landfill, tuning hundreds of gas wells manually. The Apis vision is to match the sustainability impact of the global electric vehicle market by increasing landfill methane collection by at least 1.67% over the next decade.

Approximately 300 guests attended Venture Idol, which included pre- and post-event executive networking receptions. BFTP/NEP selected seven early-stage company contestants competitively from its portfolio. In addition to Apis, the 2019 Ben Franklin Venture Idol competitors were:

American Paper Bag, LLC, Wilkes-Barre
Build My Team, Honesdale
Ophidion, Bethlehem
PrintElements Corp., Honesdale
Skillion, Inc., Bethlehem
studio BE Mindfulness, LLC, Wilkes-Barre

Three of the seven start-up technology companies, American Paper Bag, LLC; Apis Innovation; and Ophidion, earned their way to finalist status in a round of judging in the afternoon prior to the event.

Following a networking session beginning at 5:00 PM, Ben Franklin Venture Idol began with the keynote panel, “So You Wanna Raise a Seed?” Panelists were Nick Gilson, Founder and CEO of Gilson Snow; Phil Williams, Founder and CEO of Enchanted Life and Game Face Grooming; Dr. Katy Worrilow, Founder and CEO of LifeAire Systems; and Andy Goldberg, Co-Founder and CFO of Signallamp Health. Liz Sigety, Esq., a Partner at Fox Rothschild LLP and Managing Director and Co-Founder of Delaware Crossing Investor Group, moderated.

The three company finalists then pitched their ventures to a new panel of accredited investors and the audience. After short critiques from the investors, the audience members “funded” the companies, crowdfunding style, on their smartphones using a new voting app produced by Ben Franklin client UBMe. Ben Franklin will allocate a total of $15,000 in prize money among the presenters based on the audience vote.

The evenings investor panelists were:
Jim Alperin, Angel Investor
Paul Martino, Bullpen Capital
Mark Mitchell, Delaware Crossing Investor Group
Doug Petillo, Leading Edge Ventures

Chad Paul, President and CEO of BFTP/NEP, hosted Ben Franklin Venture Idol. Don Yount, president and CEO of Critical Mention and an operating partner with Activate Ventures, was the emcee.

Coverage via LVEDC., Lehigh Valley Live/Express-Times, Lehigh Valley Business