News

IntelliGreen selected as one of seven companies to compete in 2021 Ben Franklin Venture Idol contest

IntelliGreenCAN BE Innovation Center client IntelliGreen, which created the Intelli-Temp Facial Recognition Temperature Scanner pictured here, has been selected as one of seven companies that will compete for $15,000 in investment funding during Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania's 18th annual Ben Franklin Venture Idol.CAN BE Innovation Center client IntelliGreen has been selected as one of seven companies that will compete for $15,000 in investment funding during Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania's 18th annual Ben Franklin Venture Idol.

This is the second consecutive year that IntelliGreen will compete in Ben Franklin Venture Idol. Ryan Robinson, VP - Sales and Marketing for IntelliGreen, said the company gained tremendous value from last year's competition and has evolved significantly since then. He feels IntelliGreen stands a better chance to win this year.

“Venture Idol brings way more value than just a competition. You learn how to concisely and accurately pitch a product and show investors that you know what you are talking about. Our team is well experienced in running a business but we learned about going out for funding. It allows us to see what investors are looking for and how they make decisions. It taught us that people invest in people, not companies,” he said.

Robinson added that the “trial by fire” nature of the competition provides a phenomenal experience for start-up companies and especially young entrepreneurs who haven't been exposed to high-pressure sales.

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Carolina Polanco, of CAN BE tenant Alpaca Distribution, wins Chamber Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award

Young Entrepreneur Award 2021Carolina Polanco of Alpaca Distribution, right, receives the Greater Hazleton Chamber of Commerce's 2021 Young Entrepreneur of the Year award from CAN DO Director of Economic Development Jocelyn Sterenchock.Carolina Polanco, co-founder of Alpaca Distribution, received the Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award during the Greater Hazleton Chamber of Commerce's Annual Business and Community Awards Luncheon.

CAN BE has sponsored the annual award, which promotes the development of future business owners and operators under the age of 35 within Greater Hazleton, for the past eight years. Applicants are scored on business strategy, long-term goals, growth and community contribution.

Polanco said, “I am very excited and grateful for the recognition of my business, which comes as a result of my discipline and experience that I have gained over the years. Receiving this award is a sign that you have to keep going, despite the obstacles.”

Alpaca – a name created by the combination of letters from the names of co-founder Jose Alberto, his daughter, Paola, and Carolina – is a wholesale food distributor of dry goods and supplies for restaurants and supermarkets. The company sells an extensive list of name-brand products throughout Greater Hazleton, including brands like Kraft, Sara Lee, Goya, and more.

Polanco was inspired to become an entrepreneur by her parents, who showed her how to work hard, be her own boss and provide for her family. They also taught her the importance of providing excellent customer service, which she believes has been the key to her becoming a successful entrepreneur.

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CAN BE helps startups like VizVibe build valuable business connections

VizVibe webVizVibe, a tech company specializing in interactive digital content creation and storytelling using augmented reality (AR), found the perfect place to make new connections and build partnerships at the CAN BE Innovation Center. Pictured are staff members, from left: Eric Thomas, Chief Information Officer; Kevin Jones, CEO; Megan Sterenchock, Design Director; and Jordan Fritz, Social Media Manager. In addition to providing a product or service with high market demand, the success of many companies – especially those in the start-up space – is often determined by the depth of their connections. VizVibe, a tech company specializing in interactive digital content creation and storytelling using augmented reality (AR), found the perfect place to make new connections and build partnerships at the CAN BE Innovation Center.

Although the company just moved its corporate offices and home base operations into CAN BE in June, VizVibe co-founder Kevin Jones said his team was already making valuable connections by attending community events and has had numerous meetings with potential clients and partners.

“We were looking for a place to scale that had a good community culture and a positive vibe, pun intended. We had been hearing a lot about what Hazleton had been doing in the downtown as well as the great partnerships the CAN BE team was building,” he said.

Jones said his team knew CAN BE would be a valuable place to relocate VizVibe's operations after their first tour of the innovation center and added that working with CAN DO Director of Economic Development, Jocelyn Sterenchock, to secure the space at CAN BE was a seamless process.

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Greater Hazleton's entrepreneurial partnerships help Project Headway go from start-up dream to reality

Project Headway webProject Headway founder Charlee Murdock worked with The Hazleton Innovation Collaborative to launch her start-up company that helps people in need receive access to simple beauty services.Greater Hazleton is developing into a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem in part because of the collaborations and partnerships between members of The Hazleton Innovation Collaborative (THInC) and other local and regional organizations. The partnership between CAN DO and Penn State’s Hazleton LaunchBox Supported by Pasco L. Schiavo,Esq. has resulted in a dream of one local entrepreneur finally becoming a reality.

Charlee Murdock has worked in the beauty industry for two decades as a hair colorist and self-described struggling single mom with three children. As a result, she has a unique perspective of someone who understands how difficult it can be for salon owners to fund their own shop as well as how costly it can be for people to afford even simple beauty services. That's how Murdock got the idea for Project Headway.

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