FLX Solutions won the 19th annual Ben Franklin Venture Idol, held at Ben Franklin TechVentures on November 15, 2022. FLX Solutions, a Bethlehem-based startup, created the FLX Bot, a modular, snake-like robotic arm that can be used for visual inspection and 3D mapping in spaces that are inaccessible or difficult to access. The event brought together 200 business leaders, entrepreneurs, students, and investors from Northeastern PA for the first time in person since 2019, after two years of virtual events due to the pandemic.
Angelo Valletta, President and CEO of Ben Franklin Northeast, welcomed everyone to TechVentures and noted that this year’s prize money increased from $15,000 to $20,000 thanks to Presenting Sponsors Service Electric Business and PenTeleData.
“Supporting early-stage technology firms is a key component of our mission. In addition to providing seed capital to tech startups, Ben Franklin investments are a significant endorsement to help them attract additional funding. We also share in-house expertise, provide business and technical support, and bring in a network of experts, many of whom are here with us tonight, to advise our clients. Our Venture Idol event is one of the many ways that we help prepare and introduce our clients to follow-on funding opportunities,” said Valletta.
The event started with a keynote panel discussion, “Anatomy of the Perfect Deal,” moderated by Mark Mitchell of Delaware Crossing Investor Group and featuring Karen LaRochelle of Advent Life Sciences, Sylvester Mobley of Osage Venture Partners, and Sue Yee of Broad Street Angels.
After the keynote panel, three entrepreneurs – Amit Parmer of Cliquify; Matt Bilsky, PhD, of FLX Solutions; and Hank Hosler of VZRscada – pitched to attendees and investor panelists including Jeffrey Davison with Activate Venture Partners; Tiara Durham with Founders First Capital Partners; Veronica Fey with Soundboard Venture Fund; and Brett Topche with Red & Blue Ventures.
The final three were selected from a total of seven Ben Franklin portfolio companies that pitched to investors earlier in the afternoon. Other companies included BettorFantasy, GUIDE, Heudia Health, and Unison Workforce. The group of 25+ investors voted to select the three finalists.
After the pitches, audience members invested “Ben Bucks” among the finalists and waited for results during a dessert reception. Michael Starner of Service Electric Business congratulated Matthew Bilsky, PhD, of FLX Solutions on his win and noted that the $20,000 is awarded among all three companies, prorated based on the crowd-funded audience vote.