Fourth Gannon Accelerator Begins

Posted: September 15, 2015

The fourth session of Gannon's Technology Business Accelerators begins this week, with more than
20 entrepreneurs representing 15 unique businesses and business concepts. Participants include three Gannon student-led teams along with two organizations headed by Gannon faculty.

Running from September 16 - November 4 on consecutive Wednesday evenings (with the awards event set for November 5), the program will include eight weeks of intensive coaching, skill building and guidance about key concepts such as marketing, sales, accounting, budgeting, raising capital, competitive planning, business strategy, university partnerships, intellectual property creation, and other legal issues. Presenters include professionals from Gannon's Erie Technology Incubator (ETI), Small Business Development Center (SBDC), and the College of Engineering and Business, along with guest entrepreneurs and leading professional services firms.

On the program's final evening, each business will present its concept to a panel of judges with the winning pitch receiving a $10,000 business development grant; six months of residency, coaching and strategic mentoring at ETI and five hours of legal services from MacDonald, Illig, Jones, & Britton LLP, an Erie legal services firm.

So far, three local businesses have won the top prize in the Accelerator programs. Jack Barton, who owns the Out of the Grey Coffee House Cafe in Fairview, Pennsylvania, was the winner in the initial Accelerator round that concluded in November 2014. Barton successfully pitched his idea to develop online software that will enable customers to create unique, personalized coffee blends and is preparing to launch his new online concept later this month. The winners of the second Accelerator session, Phil Ventrello and Michele Vorberger of MUNIO Self Defense keychains, have instituted key manufacturing process improvements 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 organizations, and other healthcare providers in North America and internationally.

In all, 36 local technology-related entrepreneurial businesses have graduated from the first three sessions, which began a year ago. "We're extremely excited about this talented, highly-motivated group of entrepreneurs, which includes a strong Gannon contingent," said Jeffrey H. Parnell, executive director of the Erie Technology Incubator at Gannon University "In total, this group is seeking to develop businesses in such diverse sectors as healthcare, technology, manufacturing, sporting goods, home décor, e-commerce, and social media, and we look forward to some exciting progress.

"So many of our graduates are applying what they've learned in the program to achieve significant business improvements, and we appreciate the opportunity to play such a key role in their growth," Parnell added.

The Accelerator is part of Gannon University's Integrated Business Transformation Program, which integrates resources from ETI, SBDC, and the College of Engineering and Business). It was created to give participating entrepreneurs an opportunity to test a new concept, idea or line of business, and is funded (in part) through a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development.