Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Holidays! (See you in 2012.)

Please note that Seton Hill University and the E-Magnify offices are closed for the holidays and will reopen on January 2, 2012.

Ben Franklin Technology Partners' $50,000 Business Plan Contest

Could you use $50,000 to develop your big idea into a business?

The Ben Franklin Venture Investment Forum, in partnership with Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central and Northern PA, are holding their BIG IDEA Business Plan Contest. This contest is for tech-based start up companies who want to further develop and grow a business in the 32-county footprint served by the program in Pennsylvania.  The grand prize winner will receive $50,000.

To qualify for the contest, you must meet the following qualifications:

    •    be located in one of the 32 counties served by the program (see a list of eligible counties here);
    •    have a new, marketable business idea that includes a commercialization plan;
    •    have no significant sales if a product has already been developed;
    •    have fewer than 50 employees if a company has been formed; and
    •    have not received previous Ben Franklin funding.
The deadline for applications is February 29, 2012.

For more information, description of rules, entry forms, and FAQs visit

Preferred industry sectors include, but are not limited to, nanotechnology, green technologies, alternative energy, advanced manufacturing, advanced materials, information technology, and software.

Monday, December 5, 2011

New Faces at E-Magnify

E-Magnify welcomes Debra L. Mason as the Center's newest full-time staff member. Debra joins the E-Magnify team as Manager of Education and Training.

Debra will support the Center’s entrepreneurship educational and training initiatives, including its online and in-person workshops, seminars, and symposiums.

Debra brings a unique mix of qualifications to her new position. She has worked in large corporations, nonprofits, higher education, and as a business owner. Debra spent ten years with Xerox Corporation, where she worked in sales, staffing and development, and client operations. She has also served as the Director of the Office of Racial Diversity and Inclusion for YWCA Greater Pittsburgh. In 2004 she started her own firm, Victory Management, an organizational management and employee consulting/ training business specializing in diversity and leadership skills. She has been an adjunct business professor at Geneva College since 2005.

"As a business owner myself, I understand what women are looking for to elevate their businesses," says Debra. "I look forward to helping E-Magnify's clients take their businesses to the next level through practical, useable training. I love combining business theory with real-world solutions that actually work."

In 2011 Debra received the New Pittsburgh Courier 50 Women Of Excellence award and was a panelist for the City of Pittsburgh's DiverseCity 365. She has previously served as the managing director of Pittsburgh's eWomenNetwork and as president-elect of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO). In addition, Debra was the 2007 NAWBO National Conference Speaker and received the 2006 NAWBO Member of the Year Award (Pittsburgh Chapter). 

* * * 
Also joining the E-Magnify team are two new independent contractors. 

Melanie Ansell will serve as one of E-Magnify's Business Counselors, providing free, one-on-one sessions to women business owners and those interested in starting a business. She has also been named the manager of the ATHENAPowerLink Program for Southwestern Pennsylvania. Melanie has a long history in finance and served as the regional president for First Commonwealth Bank for nine years. She is co-owner of My Business Builders, LLC, a consulting firm where she specializes in entrepreneurial development.

Jennifer McGuiggan joins the E-Magnify team as the Marketing Communications Coordinator. She previously worked in a similar staff role at the Center from 2001 to 2006. During her time with E-Magnify she founded The Word Cellar, a freelance writing, editing, and creative coaching business, which has now brought her full circle as she adds the Center to her list of clients.

Please join us in welcoming Debra, Melanie, and Jennifer by leaving a comment below. 

Funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration.