Big Idea Contest winners get $50,000


Two entrepreneurs split a $50,000 prize at the Ben Franklin BIG IDEA Contest that was held on June 9 at the North Central PA Launchbox in DuBois. Jeffrey Billett from Billett Electric LLC from Jefferson County, and Esperanzo Wilcox from PA Mushroom Company from Clarion County each received a $25,000 cash prize to help them boost their startups.

Billett Electric is developing a multiple source grounding facilitation system (Grounding Spider) that provides safe and reliable grounding and bonding connections, and PA Mushroom Company is working to develop new strains of organic gourmet and medicinal mushrooms for food and pharmaceutical use.

The People’s Choice Award winner, Brinc Building Products, manufactures ThermalTight, an energy-efficient building envelope solution that manages all four layers of exterior walls.

In addition to the cash prize each company received, they will also have a seat in the upcoming business accelerator program.

“This group of companies did an amazing job of putting together their presentations for today’s event,” Annie Hughes, Director of Outreach for Ben Franklin, said. “While our contests are fun and often provide an entrepreneur with the first step forward in developing an actual business, it takes considerable time and effort to prepare for the competition.  Congratulations to all three of the cash prize winners and to everyone who shared their BIG IDEA with us.”

To find more information about how Ben Franklin Technology Partners accelerates startups in and around Happy Valley, visit


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