Join us for the 2024 PA Wilds $50,000 BIG IDEA Contest final pitch competition!

Come watch six finalists pitch their BIG IDEAS at the 2024 PA Wilds BIG IDEA Contest! Hosted by Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central and Northern PA, this exciting event will take place on June 13, 2024 at Penn College of Technology, Klump Academic Center, 1034 W. Third Street from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm with a networking reception immediately following. Selected finalists will present their innovative business ideas to a panel of judges, competing for up to $50,000 in prize money to help launch their startups.

The entrepreneurs pitching their BIG IDEAS have developed products, processes, or innovations that contribute to the PA Wilds economy, encompassing sectors like software solutions, farming, and manufacturing.

Event Details:

  • When: Thursday, June 13 2024 
  • Time: 1 – 5 p.m. with a networking reception immediately following 
  • Where: Penn College of Technology, Klump Academic Center, 1034 W. Third Street (free parking west of the building)
  • Registration: Register to attend live or virtually!

In addition to the $50,000 grand prize, audience members will have the chance to vote for their favorite presentation, awarding a $2,500 People’s Choice Award. Join us in person for an inspiring evening followed by a networking reception, or attend virtually online.

Meet the Finalists!

Discover more on YouTube: We invite you to explore our exclusive YouTube playlist where each finalist delves deeper into their BIG IDEA. These videos provide an in-depth look at the passion and innovation driving their projects, offering a unique behind-the-scenes perspective. Visit to watch the finalists share their stories and visions for the future.

Brite-Liter, founded by Benjamin Kranz (Hughesville, PA): Brite-Liter introduces a revolutionary tool to enhance literacy retention without the use of blue-light emitting screens. Their high-light projector stimulates cognitive responses, increasing engagement and retention, thus offering a valuable resource for parents and educators alike.

Good Things Growing, founded by Joshua Zucal (Emporium, PA): Good Things Growing focuses on biochar production, presenting a dynamic solution for soil remediation and holistic health enhancement. Their innovative approach harnesses the potential of biochar to sequester carbon, improve soil quality, and promote sustainable agriculture.

Otzzy, founded by Tim Emerick (Renovo, PA): This family-run business has developed an interactive tap-to-play interface app, revolutionizing personalized keepsake gifts. Otzzy’s innovative platform allows users to seamlessly embed cherished videos or heartfelt messages into a range of physical products, bridging the gap between the digital and physical realms.

Roambler, founded by Katie Caputo (Duboistown, PA): Roambler revolutionizes experiential tourism in Pennsylvania by seamlessly connecting adventure seekers with local guides and hosts. Operating as a marketplace platform, Roambler bridges the gap between service providers and consumers in the peer-to-peer web-based economy, streamlining transactions, managing payments, and offering essential communication tools. With a scalable platform, Roambler aims to become the go-to destination for unforgettable guided experiences, making it easier than ever for adventurers to explore the Keystone State.

Thompson Farms, founded by Rob Thompson (Coudersport, PA): Thompson Farms proposes a sustainable solution with its wool pellet production, addressing the need for locally sourced, organic soil amendments. Their innovative process promises multiple regenerative byproducts, providing essential nutrients while revitalizing rural economies.

Woodland Biomass Innovations, founded by Luca Pandolf (Wellsboro, PA): This team aims to transform biomass into sustainable liquid fuels, starting with a facility in Tioga County that would convert woody biomass into 87-octane gasoline that works with existing cars and infrastructure. Their project, currently in the engineering phase, holds promise for reducing carbon emissions while promoting economic development in the region.

The 2024 PA Wilds Big Idea Contest is a partnership between PA WILDS Center for Entrepreneurship, Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central and Northern Pennsylvania, with funding support provided by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC).


A special thanks to our partners and sponsors:

About the BIG IDEA Contests: Since the start of the BIG IDEA contests, more than $3 million in cash prizes have been awarded throughout Ben Franklin’s 32-county footprint in central and northern Pennsylvania. The contest offers start-ups and entrepreneurs some much-needed seed funding, as well as business training, pitch experience, and industry contacts – often more valuable than the prize money itself. 

About Ben Franklin Technology Partners: The largest seed investor in our region, Ben Franklin Technology Partners (an initiative of the PA Department of Community & Economic Development and funded by the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority) has been providing investment capital, business support services, and operational assistance to emerging tech-startups and small manufacturers for nearly 40 years. Learn more at   

About the PA Wilds: The Pennsylvania Wilds is a 13-county region that includes the counties of Cameron, Clarion, Clearfield, Clinton, Elk, Forest, Jefferson, Lycoming, McKean, Potter, Tioga, Warren, and northern Centre. For more information on the region, visit The PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship, Inc., is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to integrate conservation and economic development in a way that inspires the communities of the Pennsylvania Wilds. The PA Wilds Center works with partners to promote the region as a premier outdoor recreation destination and manages the Wilds Cooperative of PA, a business network of over 300 place-based businesses, in an effort to help businesses find new markets. For more information on the PA Wilds Center, visit Details about the Wilds Cooperative business network can be found at Find products proudly made in the PA Wilds at

For more information, contact Karly Scala at [email protected]

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