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 (MCCC) 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.