Local Entrepreneurs Make Pitch For Start-Up Funding At Montgomery County Community College

Jennifer Green (on stage, right) and service dog Echo are joined by Christina Finello (on stage, left) to make their pitch for start-up funding for Alpha Bravo Canine to the panel of judges Tuesday at Montgomery County Community College.

Blue Bell, PA — Jennifer Green doubled over in her chair, breathing rapidly with her hand to her face. Echo, a 16-month-old chocolate lab, recognized the signs of a panic attack and sprang into action, nuzzling his owner’s hand and climbing onto her lap to apply pressure to her chest to help calm her down.

Green, however, wasn’t really having a panic attack, she was demonstrating the training Echo received to assist military veterans suffering from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. The demonstration was part of her pitch to receive up to $20,000 in funding for her non-profit business, Alpha Bravo Canine.

Alpha Bravo Canine was one of six start-up businesses which made their pitch for funding to a panel of judges on Tuesday at Montgomery County Community College in Blue Bell as part of the Karen A. Stout Start-Up Accelerator Fund, named for the College’s former president.

Now in its second year, the Fund provides fledging businesses with much-needed capital to help take them to the next level in their business development. The Fund is run by the Montgomery County Community College Foundation and the College’s Division of Business and Entrepreneurial Initiatives.

After giving their presentation, the entrepreneurs faced questions from a panel of judges that included Jay Bown, president of Industrial Investments, Inc. of Blue Bell; Bob Rosenthal, partner in the real estate firm of Envision Land Use in Wayne; Gaetan Giannini, dean of Business and Entrepreneurial Initiatives at MCCC; Arline Stephan, vice president for Institutional Advancement at MCCC; and Phil Needles, vice president of Student Services at MCCC.

Josh Hoffman, co-founder of Game Plan, a mobile-app that helps people make personalized group decisions on where to dine, pitched his business to the panel and said he was very pleased with the feedback and advice he received.

“I thought it went pretty well,” Hoffman said. “When you get me up there, that’s what gives me energy.”

“Having their feedback is crucial for us growing and understanding what we need to work on,” Green said. “We appreciate the opportunity to do this no matter the outcome.”

That outcome will be determined in the next few weeks as the judges review each entrepreneur’s presentation and proposal and make decisions about funding. After receiving funding, those businesses will continue to work with the College’s Center for Entrepreneurial Studies to set key milestones and deliverables in the start-up of their business and to monitor their progress and outcomes.

Other business making pitches to the judges on Tuesday included Cryten, Inc., which provides information technology staffing and recruitment services to organizations; NeuroFlow, a software solution which promises to change the way we see brain health; Reentry USA, a reentry database for ex-offenders which promises to help reduce recidivism and improve public safety; and iCareQuality.us, which develops scalable, open source technology to advance the science of the healthcare industry.

“This Fund is about identifying and working with start-ups with strong potential and helping them grow and prosper so they can have a greater impact on Montgomery County and the region,” Stephan said.

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Leading Women Event Raises $25,000 For Scholarships, Empowers Women Through Golf

Ambler, PA Women helping women—that’s the idea behind the Annual Karen A. Stout Leading Women Symposium and Golf Experience, a marquee fundraising event for the Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) Foundation.

More than 140 female role models came out to support scholarships and programming for MCCC’s female students at the 12th annual event, named in honor of MCCC President Emerita Dr. Karen A. Stout, on June 6 at Talamore Country Club in Ambler.  The event raised more than $25,000.

“Since the Leading Women Symposium and Golf Experience started, we have raised more than $300,000!” shared Delores Lare, chair of the Foundation Board of Directors. “In 2015, the event provided $14,000 for seven KEYS Scholarship recipients and $23,000 for 15 Leading Women Scholarship recipients.”

Two of those recipients—Beth Holleger and Tamara Ali—were invited to share their stories during the brunch symposium portion of the event.

Holleger, who graduated from MCCC in 2014 and is entering her senior year at East Stroudsburg University, shared the impact scholarships had on her education.

“It was so incredibly humbling and inspiring to know that people I had never even met were investing in me,” shared the early childhood education major. “When you invest in scholarships, you invest in people. You enrich their lives by giving them a chance at a quality education, and this, in turn, enriches the community.”

Ali, who is a KEYS Scholarship recipient, graduated in May 2016 with an associate’s degree in human services.

“I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for women such as yourselves,” she told the attendees. “At the very end of my program, my financial aid ran out. If it wasn’t for the Leading Women Scholarship funds, I would still be struggling to pay for my education. The scholarship allowed me to pay for my education, eliminate stress, bury the burden of unpaid tuition and focus on completing my goals!”

Leading Women arose from conversations between Dr. Stout and Deb Takes, who, with a dynamic group of female leaders affectionately referred to as the “founding mothers,” started a Woman-Owned Business Network and a course, “Starting a Successful Woman-Owned Business,” to support female entrepreneurs.

The motivation behind the golf portion of the event is the need to break down gender barriers that may exist for women in business. As such, Leading Women is not your typical golf fundraiser. Because business deals and networking often occur on the golf course, the event has a unique learner portion, during which participants learn the fundamentals of the game.  As learners get taught how to chip, putt and drive, foursomes of more experienced golfers—many of whom started as learners—play in a scramble format.

Dr. Stout, who now serves as president and CEO of Achieving the Dream, a national student success reform network, delivered a keynote address that focused on ways in which organizations and individuals can move out of their comfort zones and move into learning zones.

“As philanthropists, we need to think not in terms of empowering female students, but in how we can break down barriers that prevent them from succeeding,” she said. “We need to unlock the transformative power of education for those who need it most and can contribute back in meaningful ways in their community.”

The organizing committee for 2016 Leading Women Golf Symposium was led by two MCCC alumna and Alumni Hall of Fame inductees, Cindi Diccianni and Pat Nunan, both of whom are business owners.

This year’s event was made possible by the following sponsors: ADT, Baker Tilly, Diccianni Financial Group, Fox Rothschild, Alma Jacobs, Ambler Savings Bank, Apollo Granite & Marble, Chartwell Law Offices, State Representative Madeleine Dean, Nance Dicciani, Saul Ewing, Joe and Kathy Gallagher, State Representative Kate Harper, J.O.B. Design & Construction, Keiffer’s Appliances, Lakeview Dental, Lifestyles Design, Motz Wealth Management, Universal Credit Services, Wilmington Trust and UNIVEST-Banking, Insurance, Investments.

In-kind sponsors included 4 Seasons Tanning, Act II Playhouse, Alma Jacobs, Ambler Theater, Blue Bell Country Club, Body Serene Day Spa, Center Square Golf Club, Cindy Diccianni, Comcast, Costco Wholesale, Crown Plaza Philadelphia West, The Culinary Arts Institute of Montgomery County Community College, Dolores Lare, Fireman’s Hall Museum, Gallagher Fluid Seals, Inc., Gerhard’s Appliances, Glasses by Amanda, GolfSmith, HCAM, Hilton Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing, Maureen Thompson, Motivs Cosmetics, Norristown Bell Credit Union, A&C Kitchens, Nu Waves Salon, Pat Nunan, Penn Museum, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Pinecrest Country Club, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Sovereign Security, Stark & Stark, Target, Tattoo Alley, TransAmerica Life, Uncorked Artist and the Leading Women Committee.

For more information, email foundation@mc3.edu or call 215-461-1139.

MCCC Pilot ‘Start-Up Accelerator Fund’ Provides Cash Awards For Aspiring Entrepreneurs‏

Blue Bell, Pa.—This spring, the Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) Foundation and the College’s Division of Business and Entrepreneurial Initiatives will pilot an exciting program designed to support and mentor aspiring entrepreneurs.

The Karen A. Stout Start-Up Accelerator Fund, named after MCCC President Emerita Karen Stout, will allow qualifying entrepreneurs to compete for cash awards to help them launch or grow their business ventures. The pilot is funded by a generous, anonymous donation up to $100,000, which will be used to fund cash awards in May and October.

“The Start-Up Accelerator Fund is designed to assist those entrepreneurs who are ready to launch their ventures, but who don’t have viable access to other funding sources,” explained Philip Needles, interim vice president of student affairs, who is overseeing the program. “It’s open to all entrepreneurs in the region, and we especially invite military veterans and participants from MCCC’s Women-Owned Business Network and Certificate in Entrepreneurship program to apply.”

Interested entrepreneurs should submit their business plans online at mc3.edu/startup by March 30, 2016. Qualifying applicants will then be invited pitch their business concepts to a review team at MCCC’s Central Campus, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell, in May.

Select entrepreneurs will be awarded between $1,000 and $20,000 to help launch their business ventures. Those recipients will work with MCCC’s Center for Entrepreneurial Studies and community mentors to set key milestones and deliverables and to monitor progress and outcomes.

MCCC will offer second round of funding in October to complete the pilot year. For information, visit mc3.edu/startup.