Startup accelerator program coming to Somerset

 In News, Somerset County

Ben Franklin’s TechCelerator@Somerset will allow entrepreneurs to participate in an intensive “8-Week Startup Accelerator

(By Michelle Ganassi, Somerset Daily American, November 5, 2018 )

Ben Franklin Technology Partners is offering eight weeks of training — and money — to technology-related startups in Somerset County.

Ben Franklin’s TechCelerator@Somerset will allow entrepreneurs to participate in an intensive “8-Week Startup Accelerator” beginning Jan. 22. The classes will be held at Uptown Works in Somerset Borough.

Bob Dornich, TechCelerator director, said the program has been hugely successful in other areas. He said that at the end of the eight-week program the winner or winners will split $10,000.

The Ben Franklin Techcelerator@Somerset will be conducted at Uptown Works in Somerset.

“It’s been going on for about seven years,” he said.

The program alternates between Penn State and other communities. The funding for the program comes from the Appalachian Regional Commission’s grant for Startup Alleghenies. The program provides up to $1,000 toward initial legal, accounting or customer discovery costs. At the end the groups will have an opportunity to pitch their business ideas to a panel of potential investors. Dornich said the program helps to identify everything needed to build a successful startup.

“A lot of inventors are in search of someone who really cares what problems are out there,” he said.

Participants will leave the class with a viable business model, a market research report valued at $5,000 and a list of networking contacts, according to the nonprofit economic development program.

He said they typically get between 12 and 20 companies to apply. Six will be chosen for the free program. Jan. 10 is the deadline to apply.

Dornich said the assistance does not end after the program is over. He said entrepreneurs will often come back two or three years later looking for accounting services or hoping to discuss a change.

“We are driven by how we help you get into business and succeed in business,” he said.

Dan Parisi, Somerset County entrepreneur and innovation coach, said he hopes people in Somerset County who have not yet had a chance to pursue their startup dream will apply for the program. He added that he hopes the program motivates them to take the next step.

“I am excited because this is a really great opportunity for our startups to be showcased and share their invention or their product or service with the community or the world,” he said. “At the end I think there will be several companies having an immediate impact on our local community, and I think that they will have an impact nationally from selling their product or service.”

For more information visit