Client & Alumni News

First Northeastern PA-Based Crowd Funding Event at Ben Franklin Venture Idol

The Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania will host the first crowd funding event in Northeastern Pennsylvania on Thursday, November 21 at Ben Franklin Venture Idol. Ben Franklin Venture Idol is like a cross between Shark Tank® and American Idol®, but with entrepreneurs and investors instead of vocalists and celebrities.

After earning their way through two rounds of judging, three remaining start-up technology company entrepreneurs will briefly pitch their venture to investors and the audience of approximately 150 attendees during the evening event. Following short critiques from a panel of investors, the audience will get a chance to “fund” the companies. With $100 of “Ben Bucks,” each guest will distribute his or her “investment dollars” in whole or part among the three finalists. Ben Franklin will later award $15,000 in real dollars to the companies based on the “crowd-funded” audience vote.

Crowd funding for early-stage firms involves the collective effort of individuals who network and pool their money, typically via the internet, to fund a company. Although selling shares of stock is not yet allowed over the internet, companies seeking funding on crowd funding sites like often provide gifts in exchange for contributions. This form of crowd funding has recently received attention from U.S. policymakers with direct mention in the 2012 JOBS Act, legislation that allows for a wider pool of small investors with fewer restrictions. Portions of the JOBS Act that permit wider publicity of companies seeking to sell equity, including use of the internet, were recently adopted by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Nine company candidates have been identified as Ben Franklin Venture Idol competitors. Interested individuals can learn more about these firms and contribute money prior to the event by visiting company profiles at The three Venture Idol company finalists will be selected from these competitors and the winner of Lehigh Valley Tech’s Startup Weekend. 

Following a networking session beginning at 5:30 PM, the evening Venture Idol competition will start at 7:00 PM.  Brian Meece, RocketHub CEO, will present the keynote address; Chad Paul, Ben Franklin Technology Partners President and CEO, will host; and Fred Beste, CEO of the General Partners, Mid-Atlantic Venture Funds, will emcee. The evening’s investor panelists are:

Glen Bressner, Originate Ventures
Bruce Luehrs, Emerald Stage2 Ventures
Paul Martino, Bullpen Capital
Brett Topche, MentorTech Ventures 

The Ben Franklin Venture Idol competitors are: Bison Analytics, LLC, Lewisburg; Cerora Inc., Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem; eVendor Check, Hawley; GiveGab, Dunmore; Map Decisions, LLCBen Franklin TechVenturesBethlehem; Orbweaver Sourcing LLC, Center Valley; Pivitec, LLC, Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem; PROVA Systems, LLC, Carbondale; and Skaffl, LLC, Allentown. The tenth competitor will be named at Lehigh Valley Tech’s Startup Weekend event, scheduled for November 15-17. 

Ben Franklin Venture Idol will be held beginning at 5:30 PM on Thursday, November 21st in the Innovation Institute at Ben Franklin TechVentures®, 116 Research Drive, on Lehigh University’s Mountaintop Campus in Bethlehem. Admission is $35.00 in advance and $40.00 at the door. Register online at