Mussel Polymers, Inc., Ben Franklin TechVentures, Bethlehem, won the 18th annual Ben Franklin Venture Idol, held virtually on Tuesday evening, November 9, 2021. Ben Franklin Venture Idol is a cross between Shark Tank® and American Idol®. More than 200 guests attended the online event, which illustrates a significant way in which early-stage entrepreneurs seek and obtain seed capital.
Mussel Polymers is commercializing safe, effective adhesives and systems that enable underwater and wet bonding with breakthrough products under development in the marine and dental industries. The technology mimics the chemistry used by mussels to attach to marine substrates. Merging this natural adhesion with industrial techniques creates strong “biomimetic” adhesives that are effective in wet and dry conditions and non-toxic, while being cost competitive.
Ben Franklin Venture Idol started with a keynote panel discussion, “The Changing Face of Investing in Technology Companies,” moderated by Elizabeth D. Sigety, Esq.- Fox Rothschild and Delaware Crossing Investor Group, and including expert panelists: Jennifer Ciarimboli- studio BE, Gerri Henwood- Baudax Bio, Gina Tedesco – Golden Seeds, and Deborah Zajac- Touchdown Ventures.
The all-female keynote panel shared insights from both investors’ and entrepreneurs’ perspectives. Panelists encouraged young firms that are pitching to investors to address what problems their product is solving, how it is better than what other companies are currently offering, and why investors should invest and why now. Entrepreneurs were advised to embrace curiosity as a skill set, and not let themselves get too high or too low as they ride the rollercoaster of launching a company. Team dynamics are key; founders need to know their team’s strengths and weaknesses.
After the panel discussion, the competition began. Eight Ben Franklin Venture Idol contestants were selected competitively from among BFTP/NEP’s top early-stage clients. This year’s competitors were: Build My Team, LLC, Honesdale; Cliquify Inc., Macungie; Coexist Build LLC, Blandon; IntelliGreen, West Hazleton; Mussel Polymers, Inc., Bethlehem; Paro AI, Inc., Bethlehem; Planguru, Wilkes-Barre; and Precision POS, Jessup.
Three of these technology firms, Cliquify Inc.; Mussel Polymers, Inc.; and Paro AI, Inc. earned their way through the selection process held earlier in the day. The finalists pitched their start-up companies to attendees and investors including Clark DeHaven, SoundBoard Venture Fund; Wes Jamison, Lehigh Valley Angel Investors; Holly Flanagan, Gabriel Investments; and Susan Yee, Broad Street Angels, in a session moderated by Don Yount, Activate Ventures.
Audience members “invested” 100 “Ben Bucks” among the companies, and Mussel Polymers received the most investment dollars. Ben Franklin Technology Partners will award a total of $15,000 in real dollars to the companies, prorated based on the “crowd-funded” audience vote.
Over the past 4 years, 24 companies have competed in Ben Franklin Venture Idol. Of the 12 company finalists selected by investors:
- 1 has already exited at a valuation of more than $70 million
- 3 have raised more than $5 million since presenting
- 4 have raised more than $1 million since presenting
- 4 others are generating revenue or nearing clinical trials
Angelo J. Valletta, President and CEO of BFTP/NEP, hosted Ben Franklin Venture Idol. The event closed with a virtual networking session among the entrepreneurs, investors, and other guests. The event program is available online at https://online.flippingbook.com/view/912779203/.