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Bethlehem holding Venture Idol competition for entrepreneurs

By Catherine Hawley, Reporter, @CatherineH_WFMZ, chawley@wfmz.com
Published On: Oct 16 2013 05:07:22 PM CDT
Updated On: Oct 16 2013 06:21:30 PM CDT

Ten fledgling companies from throughout Pennsylvania will be competing next month for a cut of $15,000.

BETHLEHEM, Pa. -

Ten fledgling companies from throughout Pennsylvania will be competing next month for a cut of $15,000. It's part of 'Ben Franklin Venture Idol,' an annual event put on by Ben Franklin Technology Partners in Bethlehem.

Ten different ideas from ten different start-ups. The entrepreneurs are all small software and technology businesses trying to get off the ground. That's where Ben Franklin Venture Idol comes in.

"We've been describing it as a combination of Shark Tank and American Idol," explained Wayne Barz, Manager of Entrepreneurial Services at Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeast PA.

The competition pits the companies against each other in two rounds of judging by real investors.

"Those two panels will select three companies that have a chance to pitch their business in the evening at the Venture Idol event," added Barz.

He says this year the competition is modeled off of crowd funding. They're expecting about 150 people at the event, and everyone will get $100 in virtual money.

"So they're going to have an opportunity after seeing the three companies present, to "invest" their $100 among the three companies as they see fit," shared Barz. "Then Ben Franklin will back up their decision by dividing up $15,000 among those three companies."

For people who actually want to donate money to the fledgling businesses, all ten will be posted on RocketHub, a crowd funding website, so folks can give cash to any of the ventures.

"Any amount of money helps, that's the bottom line," smiled founder of Map Decisions Christian Birch.

His year and a half old company is one of the start-ups in the running. He says it's an honor to be a part of the event.

"What this competition gives us the ability to do is further hone in on what our real message is," explained Birch. "What value we bring to our customer base, and why people should be interested in what we're doing, and interested in investing in what we're doing."

Organizers say the goal of Venture Idol is to help the companies gain exposure to investors, and refine their pitch. This year the competition is being held on November 21st. You can register online if you want to attend.