Gannon University Student-Led Business Wins Technology Accelerator Award
Khonsu, LLC was announced as the fourth winner of Gannon University's Technology Business Accelerator business pitch event this morning at Gannon’s Center for Business Ingenuity. The winning entrepreneurs received a check for $10,000; six months of residency, coaching and strategic mentoring from the Erie Technology Incubator at Gannon University; legal assistance from MacDonald Illig; and one year of e-commerce training provided by Ben Franklin Technology Partners’ eMarketing Learning Center.
The company—which is led by Gannon undergraduate student Denys Fedorchenko, recent Gannon graduate Mollie Sebald and Gannon graduate student Eyad Ghazzawi—received the grant after successfully pitching their “Easy Tent” pole concept, which Fedorchenko conceived after serving in the Ukrainian Army. Khonsu and 11 other entrepreneurial teams, including four additional entries from Gannon, presented their pitches to a panel of five judges during the last class meeting of the Accelerator program, which concluded on Wednesday evening.
In describing the most recent Accelerator class, Jeff Parnell, executive director of the Erie Technology Incubator at Gannon University, was quick to point out that “this was an extremely talented field of presenters. At the conclusion, the judges were particularly excited about a number of short-term market opportunities for Khonsu’s technology.”
Also recognized at today’s event were the three additional finalists: video rendering software and marketplace pioneer RendrFX; medications researcher and developer DOCTOREDUP; and GUBotDev, which innovates in unmanned aerial systems (UAS), or “drones” and is led by Gannon faculty member Mark Blair and engineering and computer science students.
Khonsu joins three previous winners of the top prize in the Accelerator program. Jack Barton, who recently launched the OutOfTheGreyCoffee.com coffee customization website, was the winner of the initial Accelerator round that concluded in November 2014. Barton successfully pitched his idea to develop online software that enables customers to create unique, personalized coffee blends. The winners of the second Accelerator session, Phil Ventrello and Michele Vorberger of MUNIO Self Defense keychains, automated their manufacturing process and are presenting educational seminars and workshops across the region, while also working to establish national marketing partnerships. The third Accelerator was won by Code Kit PRO's Pedi-PRO platform resuscitation organizer, which was created by local physician Paul Malaspina, M.D. CodeKit PRO’s products are now being marketed to hospitals, emergency medical services (EMS) organizations, and other healthcare providers in North America and internationally.
Since its inception last fall, 48 technology-related entrepreneurial businesses across Northwest Pennsylvania have completed and graduated from the 8-week program.
The Accelerator integrates resources from Gannon's College of Engineering and Business, Small Business Development Center, and Erie Technology Incubator, and was created to give participating entrepreneurs an opportunity to test a new concept, idea or line of business through the support of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED). Program funding was provided to build capacity statewide to support Pennsylvania’s businesses and to spur creativity and innovation in the provision of economic development services.