Ben Franklin Approves $2M for Eleven Early-Stage Companies

Companies approved for funding:


Biomeme, Inc. – Philadelphia – Approved Investment: $400,000

Biomeme’s technology platform transforms a user’s smartphone into a mobile lab for advanced DNA diagnostics and real-time disease surveillance. The system includes a docking station for real-time qPCR, a mobile app to control the system and analyze results, and targeted test kits for preparing samples and identifying pathogens or diseases by their specific DNA or RNA signatures.

The cutting edge platform performs to the gold standard used by the world’s most advanced central labs, but requires no lab equipment or special experience to use.  Low-cost and user-friendly, the system enables mobile testing at the point-of-need for health care (mobile clinics, disease tracking, home use), agriculture (plant disease tracking, food safety), vector surveillance (Malaria, West Nile, Lyme disease), veterinary medicine, environmental monitoring (soil and water safety), and even education and citizen science.

Biomeme was one of ten startups selected for the inaugural DreamIt Health accelerator boot camp that graduated in August 2013, and occupies space in the NextFab facility in South Philadelphia.  Biomeme is the first company to utilize Ben Franklin’s new partnership with NextFab for rapid prototyping with advanced manufacturing technologies.  Ben Franklin provides matching funds for regional companies that wish to use NextFab’s facilities and services to develop prototypes for commercial products.

Biomeme is led by Marc DeJohn, Engineering Lead & Co-Founder; Jesse vanWestrienen, Biology Lead & Co-Founder; Max Perelman, Business Lead & Co-Founder; and Maximilian Maksutovic, Software Development Lead.

CloudMine – Philadelphia – Approved Investment: $100,000
(Ben Franklin previously invested $200,000)

CloudMine offers a technology platform that reduces the total cost and effort of building, deploying, and maintaining mobile applications and websites by over 60%.  Development teams within enterprises, healthcare organizations, and their agency partners benefit from CloudMine’s prefabricated back-end architecture which includes: a suite of mobile-targeted web services, native mobile and web SDKs, HIPAA-enablement, and dataset integration technology. This platform accelerates production of high-quality applications on any mobile or connected device and allows development teams to focus their time and energy on perfecting the user interface and experience, instead of the complexities associated with custom backend software development.

CloudMine is successfully taking advantage of Philadelphia’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.  In 2011, the company was shaped by DreamIt Ventures, a nationally renowned entrepreneurial accelerator, which was funded and supported by Ben Franklin.  CloudMine was part of the inaugural class at the Project Liberty Digital Incubator, housed by Interstate General Media (owners of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and, funded by the Knight Foundation, and operated by Ben Franklin.  Project Liberty is stimulating the establishment and growth of digital media startup companies in the Greater Philadelphia region.

CloudMine has raised over $1.5M in follow-on funding, from investors including Robin Hood Ventures, Mid-Atlantic Angel Group Fund (MAG), and MentorTech Ventures.

The company is led by its three co-founders: Brendan McCorkle, CEO; Marc Weil, CTO; and Ilya Braude, VP of Engineering and COO.

gatherDocs, LLC – Philadelphia – Approved Investment: $100,000

An applicant tracking system, gatherDocs is the fastest and easiest way to recruit, screen, and hire employees for the retail and service industries.  Features include an intuitive interface that lets employers create and distribute job posts in minutes, as well as a database that allows for efficient management and evaluation of a large number of applicants.  Employers can track exactly where applicants are coming from and who views job postings to optimize their recruitment process, and determine which job boards lead to the most referrals, interviews and hires.

gatherDocs also includes mobile-friendly applications that engage candidates on the spot, for example by allowing them to scan a QR code inside the store to instantly fill out a job application.

The company is led by Alex King, Principle Founder & CEO; and Bruce Marable, CMO & Co-Founder.

Gentis, Inc. – Delaware County – Approved Investment: $250,000
(Ben Franklin previously invested $500,000)

Gentis is a developer of minimally invasive, biomaterials-based products intended to treat the early-stage degeneration of the spine, which causes back pain.  The company’s first patented product, DiscCell, is a breakthrough injectable biomaterial that augments or replaces the diseased nucleus pulposus of the spinal disc.

DiscCell is intended to significantly delay further degradation of the diseased disc and to prevent a recurrence of back or leg pain at the treatment site.  Gentis commenced human trials on DiscCell outside the U.S. in 2010, and plans to file with the FDA in the near future to allow for the initiation of a pivotal trial in the U.S.

Gentis has raised funding from Pappas Ventures (Durham, NC), Easton Capital (New York, NY), Ivy Capital Partners (Montvale, NJ), and Matignon Technologies (Paris, France).

The company is led by David W. Anderson, President & CEO; Dr. Charles Cohen, Ph.D., VP of Product Development and Dr. Paul Ducheyne.

Optofluidics, Inc. – Philadelphia – Approved Investment: $50,000, through the Technology Commercialization Fund
(Ben Franklin previously invested $50,000 through The Nanotechnology Institute™)

Optofluidics created a scientific instrument called the NanoTweezer system, that rapidly turns microscopes into nanoparticle analysis engines.  The NanoTweezer enables rapid characterization and imaging of submicron particles, including protein aggregates and inorganic nanomaterials, and helps scientists unveil key particle parameters including nanoparticle shape and coating quality.

The product’s proprietary nanophotonic technology allows users to manipulate and analyze objects much smaller than existing technologies, without damaging their structure.

Optofluidics was named the Philadelphia Life Sciences Start-Up of the Year at the Greater Philadelphia Alliance for Capital and Technologies (PACT)’s 2012 Enterprise Awards, and is a Finalist for SPIE’S PRISM Awards for the category of Life Sciences and Biophotonics.

Optofluidics has funding from BioAdvance, National Science Foundation, and US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

Optofluidics is led by Dr. Bernardo Cordovez, CEO and Dr. Robert Hart, CTO & President.

Rajant Corporation – Chester County – Approved Investment: $200,000, 
SBA Intermediary Loan Program Investment

(Ben Franklin previously invested $200,000)

Rajant was established in October 2001 after its founders, motivated by the worst domestic terrorist attack in history, identified challenges in traditional wireless data networks for safety responders.

Today, Rajant has pioneered the world’s most reliable, scalable, and readily deployed Kinetic Mesh network technology, with large and trusted installations providing round-the-clock communications in some of the most demanding environments imaginable (such as mining, military, oil and gas, first responders, and telecommunications) where people, vehicles and equipment are typically in motion.

Rajant has raised funding from Battelle Ventures, Innovation Valley Partners, and others.

The company is led by Robert J. Schena, Chairman, CEO & Co-Founder; Paul Hellhake, CTO & Co-Founder; Scott Beer, COO; Gary Anderson, Senior VP of Sales; Dave Schena, VP of Finance; Peter Leonard, Senior VP of Business Development; and Marty Lamb, VP of Software Engineering.

SnipSnap App, LLC – Philadelphia – Approved Investment: $150,000
(Ben Franklin previously invested $200,000)

What if snipping a coupon was as simple as snapping a photo on your smartphone’s camera?  That’s the idea behind SnipSnap, the first app to scan, save and redeem printed coupons on your mobile phone.

The technology allows users to more efficiently and effectively organize their coupons, maximize their savings, and be reminded to use their coupons before they expire.  By the end of 2013, a little over a year and a half since launching, SnipSnap had grown to 2.5 million users on iOS and Android.  Those users snipped 40 million coupons and saved $150 million.

SnipSnap also distributes targeted coupons on behalf of retailers (both to users of the app, as well as via Facebook and mobile ads) on a pay-for-performance model.  Bed Bath & Beyond, Toys “R” Us, Party City, and Aeropostale are just a few of the retailers utilizing SnipSnap’s targeting capabilities, and reporting on average 10 redemptions per store location and 20-90x return on ad spend.

SnipSnap is successfully taking advantage of Philadelphia’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.  In 2011, the company was shaped by DreamIt Ventures, a nationally renowned entrepreneurial accelerator, which was funded and supported by Ben Franklin.  SnipSnap was part of the inaugural class of companies at the Project Liberty Digital Incubator, housed by Interstate General Media (owners of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and, funded by the Knight Foundation, and operated by Ben Franklin.  Project Liberty is stimulating the establishment and growth of digital media startup companies in the Greater Philadelphia region.  SnipSnap has raised funding from MentorTech Ventures and others.

The company was founded by Ted Mann, CEO; Kostas Nasis, CTO; Kyle Martin, VP of Product; and recently brought on longtime advisor Ron Braunfeld (whose prior startup, WHERE, was acquired by PayPal) as President, in charge of Sales and Business Development.

United Preference – Approved Investment: $200,000

United Preference offers an incentive based administration and data analytics platform that provides the methodologies and systems to effectively implement, manage, and monitor health and wellness incentive programs, with the objective of driving Star Ratings and/or HEDIS Measures, improving member health, and/or reducing overall healthcare costs.

The company is bolstered by its deep understanding of not only what works to drive wellness program engagement and compliance, but also legal and regulatory requirements as they pertain to Accountable Care Act and HIPPA.

United Preference administers all wellness incentives and other wellness benefit dollars more efficiently with its Tailored Spend™ Prepaid Cards, which run on the Discover network, and can only be used to purchase health and wellness related items at retailers nationally.  The company uniquely offers the ability for Health Plans and Employers to track and measure exactly how, where, and in what intervals and/or amounts incentive dollars are earned and redeemed, enabling clients to understand the true return on investment (ROI) of their wellness programs.

United Preference is led by Mark Hall, CEO; Shahid Shah, CTO; Pamela Hall, COO; Paulo Machado, Head of Commercialization; and Kevin Riley, Head of Products.

VUID, Inc. – Philadelphia County – Approved Investment: $50,000

VUID’s vision is to become the leading trusted log-in method for digital devices.  The company has created a patent-pending mobile ID two-factor authentication system, which people can use to log in securely to products on their mobile devices, the first of which is VUID’s internally developed social media app Spotlight, due out in late January / February on the Android and iPhone.

When registering to become a member of Spotlight, people are assigned a VUID number, which over time people will be able to use to safely and securely log in to further VUID developed and 3rd party products, sites and apps on their devices.

VUID aims to become the first number-based ID system for online and mobile centric log in. In addition to authenticating people with their mobile phone number, VUID’s patent application also includes the use of technologies such as QR codes, NFC and BlueTooth wireless, to enhance product accessibility and simplify people’s lives.  Comparisons have been made to the popular QQ# log-in system in Asia, where ~800 million people use their QQ# daily to log in to various chat, social media, text and game apps on their phones.

VUID is a member of the Project Liberty Digital Incubator, housed by Interstate General Media, funded by the Knight Foundation, and operated and supported by Ben Franklin.  Project Liberty is stimulating the establishment and growth of digital media startup companies in the Greater Philadelphia region.

VUID is led by Kevin M. Brophy, CEO, and Dr. Karen Meidlinger, VP.

X-Nav Technologies, LLC – Montgomery County – Approved Investment: $450,000

X-Nav Technologies is a medical device company that develops surgical solutions for the dental market to advance patient care while improving doctor productivity.

The company innovates, designs, manufactures and sells advanced medical devices that improve the treatment plan, surgical outcome, and productivity, and combine a thorough understanding of doctor and patient needs with today’s fast-growing imaging technologies.

X-Nav’s lead product is X-Guide, a surgical navigation system that provides real-time computer-assisted guidance during the dental implant process, and is less expensive and more accurate than the current standard of care.

The company is led by Edward Marandola, President & CEO; Dr. Robert Emery, III, DDS, CMO; and Christopher Scharff, VP of Sales & Marketing.

Zuppler Online Food Order – Montgomery – Approved Investment: $125,000

Providing the most advanced technology, functionality and design in the marketplace today, Zuppler is the fast and easy way to order food online through a restaurant’s website, social pages and popular dining guides.

Zuppler helps restaurants become the neighborhood favorite for takeout and delivery.  Its menus provide a feature-packed ordering service that increases new and repeat users for restaurants, and helps them promote daily food specials, events and deals.  Restaurants prefer the Zuppler model over other food portals because it gives them control over their customers and their brand, through a fully customized online ordering solution integrated directly on their website.  In addition, Zuppler syndicates its restaurant menus to hotels, apartments, and universities, which enables restaurants to seamlessly gain new customers.

The company is led by Shiva Srinivasan, CEO & COO.