New entrepreneurs can compete for funding

By Diane VanDyke
Keynote speaker CEO Richard Thompson shares his experiences as an entrepreneur with Montco students and visitors at the launch of the next round of the Karen A. Stout Start-up Accelerator Fund Competition on Oct. 16.

Keynote speaker CEO Richard Thompson shares his experiences as an entrepreneur with Montco students and visitors at the launch of the next round of the Karen A. Stout Start-up Accelerator Fund Competition on Oct. 16.

Montgomery County Community College launched the next round of its Karen A. Stout Start-Up Accelerator Fund Competition on Oct. 16, inviting entrepreneurs to compete for funding to launch or grow their businesses.

To kick off the competition, the College invited Richard Thompson, founder and former CEO of American Italian Pasta Company, The Meow Mix Company and Freshpet to speak about his entrepreneurial experiences.

“You have to be all in to be a successful entrepreneur,” Thompson told the students and visitors at the event. “You can’t leave bridges behind you that will allow you to retreat. You need to move forward with your plans.”

He emphasized throughout his lecture that he is not a quitter, even when he repeatedly was told “no” or “you can’t do that.”

“Don’t be afraid to fail,” he said. “I’ve learned to take risks.”

With his experience as CEO of American Italian Pasta Company, The Meow Mix Company and Freshpet, Thompson has vast operational experience across multiple disciplines, including marketing and sales, manufacturing, supply chain and distribution, and innovation infrastructure. Currently, he is the managing director and founder of Factory LLC, an operating company in Bethlehem, Pa., which partners with companies to help them to innovate and scale their operations.

To compete for funding in the Accelerator Fund Competition, applicants must submit their business plans by February 28, 2019. Selected applicants will be invited to the College in April 2019 to pitch their business concepts to a review team. Selected entrepreneurs will be awarded between $1,000 and $25,000 for their business ventures. For details, visit www.mc3.edu/accelerator.

Now in its fourth year, the Accelerator Fund has assisted 14 businesses to date with capital to help take them to the next level in their business development. In 2018, the review team selected six finalists from a pool of 29 applicants to make their pitches for funding, and five businesses each received $5,000:

  • Carvertise, based in Wilmington, DE, (Greg Star, Founding Partner) – Carvertise manages advertising campaigns on consumers’ personal vehicles and uses proprietary technology to track and provide analytics.
  • Eoko, Inc., Plymouth Meeting, PA, (Jeremiah DeLeon, Founder/CEO) – Eoko developed a mobile app that will increase engagement with companies’ employees to build community.
  •  Mighty Writers, based in Philadelphia, PA, (Naomi Levecchia, Director of Development) – Mighty Writers is a non-profit that teaches writing and communication skills to youth ages 7 to 17 in the region.
  •  SmarTECHS LLC, Conshohocken, PA, (Remy De Vlieghere, Founder/CEO) – SmarTECHS provide software as a service for rapid deployment of work and safety processes to technicians in the field.
  •  Trisonus, based in Philadelphia, PA, (Stellie Ford, CEO) – Trisonus is a hardware manufacturer for consumer-focused biotechnology and offers innovative devices that bring modern capability to researches at all levels.

The Montgomery County Community College Foundation and the College’s Division of Business and Entrepreneurial Initiatives oversee the Accelerator Fund.