Tribune Democrat: Got a big idea? Here’s the contest for you

 In News

Originally appeared in the Tribune-Democrat, June 21, 2017 by Mark Pesto

ALTOONA – In an effort to encourage regional entrepreneurs to get involved in the new Startup Alleghenies initiative, Ben Franklin Technology Partners, a technology-focused seed-stage capital provider, will hold its 2017 Big Idea Contest in southwestern Pennsylvania.

“It’s our hope that the Big Idea Contest will encourage regional entrepreneurs to submit their ideas and ‘prime the pump,’ if you will, for the Startup Alleghenies project,” Jerry Hudson, a Johnstown native and portfolio manager for Ben Franklin, said Tuesday.

The Big Idea Contest is designed to allow an aspiring entrepreneur or business owner to submit his or her innovative idea for a product, process or application – with the winner receiving the chance to see that idea become a reality.

The contest’s monetary prizes total $50,000, Hudson said, with the first-place winner receiving $25,000 in cash.

The winner also will take home a one-year pass to Ben Franklin’s e-marketing learning center; priority access to Ben Franklin’s pre-seed investment, valued at $10,000; and a free consultation on how to access federal research and development grants.

To be eligible to enter the contest:

  • The entrant must be “planning or developing a new, innovative product, process or software application.”
  • The entrant and his or her business must not have received a Ben Franklin investment previously.
  • The entrant’s business must either be pre-revenue or not have exceeded $500,000 in sales in 2016.
  • The entrant must be located in one of the following 12 southwestern Pennsylvania counties: Cambria, Somerset, Blair, Bedford, Indiana, Centre, Clearfield, Fulton, Huntingdon, Jefferson, Juniata or Mifflin.

The contest website will go live Aug. 14, Hudson said. The application deadline is Oct. 2.

The winners will be announced Nov. 16 during an event at Bottle Works in Johnstown’s Cambria City section.

Last year’s winners were a York-based company that developed an “insurance solution” for consumers and online marketplaces engaged in the sharing economy and a Carlisle-based company that “developed a proprietary algorithm that lets fans easily … draft a winning fantasy football team.”