The winner of Gannon University's Technology Business Accelerator business pitch event went home with a $10,000 check, along with six months of residency, coaching and strategic mentoring from the Erie Technology Incubator this morning.
The winning entrepreneur, Jack Barton, is the first recipient of this award and prize through the Integrated Business Transformation program's inaugural Technology Business Accelerator. Barton, who owns the Roast Assured @ Out of the Grey Coffee House Cafe in Fairview, Pa., received the grant after successfully pitching his idea to develop online software that will enable customers to create unique, personalized coffee and tea blends. He and 11 other entrepreneurs presented their concepts and businesses to a panel of five judges during the last class meeting of the first Accelerator program, which concluded on Wednesday evening.
Jeff Parnell, executive director of the Erie Technology Incubator at Gannon University, said, "Jack's five-minute pitch accentuated his vision to create a software solution that combines his coffee market expertise with strategic 'mass customization' thinking. His new business will leverage technology and enable coffee connoisseurs to efficiently create their own customized blends. He achieved tremendous progress during our eight-week program, and his passion to create a differentiated business that expands his customer base far beyond northwest Pennsylvania really resonated with the judges."
The four finalists, who also included Chris Firment (Skunkwirkz, LLC), Fran DiSanti (Santi, LLC), and Susan and Dale Hofius (Rail Ryder, LLC), were revealed Wednesday evening and were also recognized at today's event.
Three additional Accelerator training opportunities will be available to participants beginning in early 2015, and applications are being accepted online here.
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's Discovered in PA, Developed in PA (D2PA) program, which was established by Gov. Tom Corbett in 2011 to build capacity to support Pennsylvania businesses and to spur creativity and innovation in the provision of economic development services. Last fiscal year, the D2PA program supported initiatives tied to growing life sciences, advanced manufacturing, business incubators, and education, workforce and economic opportunity collaborations.