Turn Your Startup Dreams Into Reality With Ben Franklin's TechCelerator
Local startup bootcamp offers education, funding, and guidance for local entrepreneurs
If you've ever watched ABC's popular reality show Shark Tank, you're likely one of many viewers who has thought, "Hey, I think I could be one of these entrepreneurs." You already have the idea or maybe even ideas — if only you had the experience, capital, and maybe a little guidance along the way.
Enter Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central & Northern Pennsylvania, an initiative of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. With their Winter Erie TechCelerator program — open to and free for residents of Erie County — they provide aspiring entrepreneurs with a supportive, educational, and empowering program to help make those startup dreams of yours a reality and ensure you have the information needed to decide if it's the right time to take that next step in starting your business.
Unlike the cutthroat Shark Tank, the TechCelerator Startup Bootcamp is a 10-week online course designed to nurture a thriving local startup culture and bring together a community of like-minded entrepreneurs. The program will teach you how to develop a pitch deck for funding opportunities through classes utilizing the Canvas Learning System and Zoom, with a time commitment of between five to ten hours each week.
Topics covered will include business models, funding options, value propositions, operating and startup costs, basics of financials (balance sheets, income statements, and cash flows), basics of legal, how to get, keep, and grow your customer base, and much, much more. Bootcamp also involves weekly group sessions with content experts and collaboration with an experienced business mentor for one-on-one sessions to assist you with the individual needs and challenges of your specific startup.
Even better? The course ends with your very own pitch presentation to a group of accomplished judges with a chance to earn as much as a $15,000 award to help launch your startup.
If this sounds too good to be true… it's not.
"[The TechCelerator] has been an incredible journey, and much of our growth and progress is thanks to their support and guidance," describes Hema Ravindran, founder of KiposTech and Grand Prize Winner of 2023. "The classes and coaching sessions have not only enriched my knowledge but have also given me countless memorable moments."
Drew Piispanen, founder of Dolphin Studio, didn't snag the grand prize, but still found the experience and support extremely helpful. "I feel more confident to be able to succeed in the future – and I couldn't have done it without [the TechCelerator's] help," he says. "Ben Franklin is a much-needed resource for this area, and I'm happy that it exists the way it does."
Entrepreneurs have pitched proposals as versatile as disinfection systems, workforce platforms, chatbot consulting firms, high-quality hunting and fishing equipment, and even a farm matching microbreweries with hops and grains.
It all starts with an idea. Apply now at cnp.benfranklin.org/techcelerator. The deadline is Dec. 8, 2023 with a class start date of Jan. 9, 2024