tecBridge Winners

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20 Under 40: JenniferDessoye

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Dr. Jennifer Dessoye is assistant professor of occupational therapy at Misericordia University and owner of Bright Beginnings Early Learning Academy (BBELA). Discontent with the early education curriculum and understanding of human development and neurolo (read more)

20 Under 40: Amy Hlavaty Belcher

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Amy Hlavaty Belcher, 39, owner and artistic director of Abrabesque Academy of Dancing, believes that for those who have been given much, much is expected. “I just try hard to do my best,” she said. I have been blessed with many opportunities and many gift (read more)

20 Under 40: Christopher Hetro

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Chris Hetro, 33, works hard and plays hard. “A strong work ethic is important, but finding balance outside of work is important because life is too short and you need to enjoy it,” he explained. As an electrical engineer and project manager at Borton-Laws (read more)

20 Under 40: C. David Pedri

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For attorney C. David Pedri, 37, it’s all about a combination of qualities that contribute to success. “My philosophy is simple: be open and honest, treat people the way you would want to be treated, with respect, and work hard to attain your dreams. The (read more)

20 Under 40: Ed Frable

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Ed Frable, 28, believes “if I work hard and stick to my word, good things will happen. My crew will not be deterred. We will re-evaluate our game plan and not give up until the job is complete,” explained Frable, the owner/operator of Ed Frable Constructi (read more)

20 Under 40: William H. Bender II

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William H. Bender II, CFP, CIMA, CRPC, loves what he does. “I’m lucky. I come to work every day excited to help the people and institutions we work with,” explained Bender, 34, first vice president at Bender Wealth Management Group, Merrill Lynch. The fam (read more)

20 Under 40: Angelo Venditti

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Angelo Venditti, 38, heard a call to the helping professions early on. Geisinger Northeast’s chief nursing officer answer was to volunteer for his local fire company. After high school, he became a paramedic, then enrolled in nursing school. Three years a (read more)

20 Under 40: Donald Mammano

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At 20, Donald Mammano began his own company, while attending the University of Scranton. Mammano, now 33, and president of DFM Properties, recalls, as a youngster, holding a flashlight while his father fixed the kitchen sink. “From that point on I was fas (read more)

20 Under 40: William J. Fennie III

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William J. Fennie III, 27, is always knocking on the proverbial door, because he knows one day, one will open. As an investment specialist with Integrated Capital Management (iCM) he cannot take “no” for an answer. “I make cold calls every day to invite f (read more)

20 Under 40: Marcus Magyar

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As an advisor at CAPTRUST Financial Advisors, Marcus N. Magyar, CFP, 30, provides comprehensive wealth management and investment portfolio services to business owners, executives, families and high-net worth individuals. His multi-disciplinary team of pro (read more)

20 Under 40: Heather Davis

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Heather M. Davis, 33, director of marketing and communication, is responsible for creating, overseeing and implementing a strategic marketing and comprehensive communications plan for The Commonwealth Medical College (TCMC). She is also responsible for pr (read more)

20 Under 40: Alexandria Duffney

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Alexandria Duffney, 30, is competitive by nature and loves a good challenge. These qualities have led her to her position as associate director of graduate admission at Wilkes University. Here she works with prospective students interested in enrolling in (read more)

20 Under 40: John Culkin

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John Culkin’s tenets inform: “Less haste equal more speed; the same boiling water that softens the potato hardens the egg, it is all about what you are made of, not the circumstances surrounding you; and don’t ask someone to walk a mile in your shoes, bef (read more)

20 Under 40: Conor O'Brien

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“What could be worse than getting to the end of your life and realizing you hadn’t lived it,” mused Conor O’Brien.” As co-founder and executive director of the Scranton Fringe Festival, O’Brien, 25, is responsible for leading the development of the overal (read more)

20 Under 40: Jessica Siegfried

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Jessica Siegfried, 38, is senior designer with BlackOut Design Inc., where she is responsible for all creative design at the full-service agency, from traditional branding and print to collateral and front end web design. “I’ve always had an interest in t (read more)

20 Under 40: David Johns

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David Johns’ career path has been shaped by his diverse experiences. As director of structural engineering at Greenman-Pedersen Inc., Moosic, Johns, 39, ensures that his engineering and consultant teams provide clients with their best effort. “We complete (read more)

20 Under 40: Robyn Jones

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Robyn Jones, 38, president of ReferLocal LLC, has learned just as many lessons from her business successes as she’s had from her failures — and she believes it’s important to share that knowledge with her employees. After graduating from American Universi (read more)

20 Under 40: Nisha Arora

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Nisha Arora, 36, tries to be the best version of herself every day. As general counsel for ERA One Source Realty Inc., she realized she cannot control other’s behavior so “I try to focus on myself and how I can be better,” she explained. Arora’s responsib (read more)

20 Under 40: Justin Sandy

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Starting at a young age in Hazleton, Justin C. Sandy, 33, found a passion for running. He became a member then a coach for Misericordia University’s cross country and track and field programs. “It was at Misericordia that I also garnered the profound sati (read more)

20 Under 40: Dr. Ariane Conaboy

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As a doctor of internal medicine at Physicians Health Alliance, Dr. Ariane M. Conaboy, 34, realizes the importance of human life and how fragile it can be at times. Conaboy graduated from Scranton Prep and the University of Scranton with a double major in (read more)

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Best and worst side jobs for extra holiday cash

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The holidays are a time for giving, but giving can be expensive. The season can put tremendous financial pressure and stress on average families. The good news, however, is that it’s also a great time to make some extra cash and pad your annual income wit (read more)

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Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2017:04:27 18:51:00

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America’s up-and-coming millennials were represented among the winners in this year’s tecBRIDGE Business Plan Competition. The event, the 15th in the series, awarded the winning teams a share of more than $100,000 in cash and in-kind prizes while recognizing superior and creative plans for commerce.

Tunefly, located in the Twin Stacks Incubator in Dallas, was the tecBRIDGE wild card winner. Their entry, launched in September, specializes in streaming local music for hobbyists, aspiring artists and established performers.

Samuel O’Connell, 26, of Noxen, serves as CEO with a four-member team that created the application. They had recognized that the glory days of record deals opening doors for musicians was rapidly receding into history, creating difficult times for recording artists.

In addition, performing musicians are finding it difficult to generate a fan base, despite the fact that hidden musical gems exist across the country, even among hobbyist musicians. The mechanics of the music industry also now make it difficult for a performer to distribute their creations, despite the existence of popular streaming services.

“The hard fact is that 80 percent of music is now streamed,” said O’Connell. “There has been some comeback of the vinyl LP, but overall, music is now communal and any artist must use the phone to record and deliver because the Internet has spread across the country.”

The Tunefly software was developed in-house, creating what O’Connell called the team’s biggest hurdle. As a group, they possessed graphic design experience, but they also learned to code and create software updates with a commitment for the app to be user-friendly on a phone and not just with PC use.

“The feedback from musicians so far has been very promising,” said O’Connell. “We traveled cross-country to promote the app and gain feedback, and some of the artists using Tunefly already have more than 40 music posts up.”

The revenue stream for Tunefly, according to O’Connell, is being generated in several ways. Topping the list is advertising to users, coupled with payment for premium content without advertising as well as access to exclusive content.


Hearing preservation

Another millennial team, Fader Plugs from East Stroudsburg University, won the tecBRIDGE collegiate division award for creation of a patent-pending hearing protection device. Blaise Delsino, 25, of Bethlehem, the four-member team’s CEO and co-founder, said the group exploited a market niche that recognized how, at one time, virtually no one thought about gradual hearing loss inevitably creating permanent damage for musicians and workers within airports and industry.

According to Delsino, during 2010 the CDC reported that 26 million Americans ages 20 to 69 were suffering from noise-induced hearing loss of some kind. This comprised 17 percent of the public, generating a huge market for an effective preventative product which Delsino’s audiologist father often called for.

“The ear plugs commonly available are inconvenient and uncool,” said Delsino. “They have to be twisted into the ear canal, fiddled with, and they often fall out because one size does not fit all.”

To fill this market niche, the Fader Plug team created a passive ear plug which they claim to be invisible and discrete. The product allows the user to “dial in” the amount of auditory protection desired, with no power needs in an elegant and form-fitting package that uses mechanical attenuation.

A prototype covered by a provisional patent has been assembled, with an eight to 12-month timeline for retail sales. The units will be assembled in Minnesota, with a $5 cost of production and a retail price of $24.99.

“We’ve beta tested on Kickstart, and will initially concentrate on direct retail sales within the industrial market,” said Delsino.


Spontaneous gatherings

Cracked Innovations, located in the Scranton Enterprise Center, won the first-place award in the non-collegiate division with a networking application for meeting people called WhatNow. This app, available for use on both iOS and Android, is the creation of a four-member team, headed by Kevin Granville, 39, a Forest City native who jokes he was very late to the Facebook use.

WhatNow exploits the ability of social media to deliver targeted information that is interest-based. Users can connect with people in real time and receive an active data feed of activities that are time saving, allowing spontaneous inclusion with activities.

Users of the app can pull up a data feed that lists who’s doing what, post desires for activities and inform others of an event on both Facebook and Twitter. The app, according to Granville, had a very practical genesis.

“We were in a bar on a motorcycle trip and noticed a gang of females arrive who were alone in the bar,” said Granville. “We made the observation that they needed to connect with other people, and the idea for WhatNow resulted.”

The app also fills what Granville calls a need for youth to get out in real world and away from excessive cyber interaction. The team strived for simplicity during development of the software, which was outsourced to SHO Technology solutions in the Scranton Enterprise Center.

“Our revenue stream flows from advertisers promoting specific equipment to specific users, such as ski equipment to skiing enthusiasts,” said Granville. “Other examples of this include biker merchandise to motorcycle users. We also have other features such as an event coordination app that can produce revenues.”

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