Eight Weeks of Hard Work Resulted in Cash for Three Local Entrepreneurs!

 In Business, Cambria County, entrepreneur, News, Somerset County

On Thursday September 6, 2018, six local entrepreneurs competed for cash prizes as part of a “pitch” event sponsored by the Ben Franklin TechCelerator@Johnstown.  Friends, family, and community partners came to support their efforts and cheer them on for their courage, vision, and hard work.

The exciting finale event began at 5:00 PM at the Cambria Courthouse on Franklin Street in downtown Johnstown and was followed by a networking reception in the Press Bistro.  Nearly 70 people waited more than an hour to hear the decision made by the three judges.  Bob Dornich, the Program’s Director commented, “We had such a great group that it was very difficult for the panel to decide on just one winner.  So, we added a little money to the pot and awarded three prizes. We’re proud of all those who participated and congratulate the three winners.”

From left to right:

  • $5,000 was awarded to Ryan Kieta, CEO of Real Design. The company is developing a proprietary line of street furniture, PopBench, used in outdoor venues and “pop-up” locations.
  • $5,000 was also awarded to Matthew Leverknight, CEO of Free Feet Shoes. They will use the prize money to develop a prototype of a line of specialty footwear designed for those who have special needs that require the use of ankle-foot orthotics.
  • $2,000 was awarded to Tom McConnell’s company, Eternal Remembrance, LLC, which delivers an easy-to-use, mobile, memorial app that allows customers to connect, celebrate, and honor the legacy of their loved ones.



About the Ben Franklin TechCelerator@Johnstown

As an important component of the Startup Alleghenies initiative, www.startupalleghenies.com, the Ben Franklin TechCelerator@Johnstown, is a tech-business startup accelerator offering the area’s emerging entrepreneurs, small manufacturers, students, and tech-startups a one-stop-shop for entrepreneurial training.  The 8-Week program was held in alternating locations which included 814 WORX in downtown Johnstown and the JARI Center.  The entrepreneurs received business mentoring from Ben Franklin’s Transformation Business Services Network and local economic development and startup experts at no cost.  This innovative, one-stop-shop approach to business incubation encourages an entrepreneurial climate, increases technology transfer opportunities, and helps develop a robust “startup” culture in Johnstown and the surrounding area.  Click on https://cnp.benfranklin.org/are-ben-franklins-techcelerator-boot-camps-right-for-you