The Erie Technology Incubator at Gannon University’s Center for Business Ingenuity is celebrating the expansion of client Olympia Technologies LLC into Pittsburgh, thanks to funding from Ben Franklin Technology Partners.
This funding will help Olympia Technologies develop its product, the Hippoh app, as well as its market presence.
Matthew Gawlik, CEO, Andrew Peirson, COO, and Nate Carlin, CTO of Olympia Technologies, were part of the original, blended group of business and software engineering students at Gannon who developed the company – what initially began as a senior project.
In July of 2018, Olympia Technologies released its mobile application, Hippoh, which lets users “find their local watering hole” by locating nearby restaurant specials, happy hours, events and more using real-time data.
The app quickly gained traction and thousands of downloads in the Erie market. As a result, the students – now graduates of the university – are preparing to launch the company’s mobile app into the Pittsburgh market, hire a full-time CTO to expedite the team’s development needs, and look to hire a sales manager through funding from BFTP.
Both Gawlik and Carlin said they are excited to see how quickly Hippoh has grown into a thriving business venture.
“The stakes are now higher than ever, but we are trying to accomplish the same goal: building a great business,” Carlin said.
In spring 2017, the team entered their senior project in Erie’s annual Innovation Collaborative Innovation Showcase. Their third-place finish was met with an invitation to secure office space in ETI, where the team has received professional business mentoring. The team also received marketing mentorship, strategic planning help and data resources from Gannon’s Small Business Development Center. They celebrated the founding of the company on July 1, 2017.
The company’s team was able to develop a strategic expansion plan to the Pittsburgh market with assistance from ETI and SBDC consultants and mentors, but they needed funds to maximize this expansion plan.
Brian Slawin, a judge for the team’s original senior project presentation and a portfolio manager for BFTP, helped guide this initiative by landing the team a position in BFTP’s TechCelerator@Erie, a business accelerator and incubator program that was held in the summer of 2019. Upon completion of this 10-week seminar, the company applied to Ben Franklin for a traditional investment and received funding.
Carlin said it was the commitment of the team – which also includes James Gruss Jr., Gregory Incardona, Michael Frio, Marco Orlando and Josh Reynolds – that has made this possible.
Brad Gleason, director of entrepreneurial operations at Gannon, helped the team coordinate their business development initiative and expressed his sentiments on their work.
“What I found striking is their commitment to success. [It] has been exceptional both by the long hours they log into the evenings, weekends, as well as their long-term commitment,” Gleason said. “I also am very impressed with the bond of their immediate team and larger team is very tight. Hippoh by itself is an exciting app, but the team and their bond makes their company something special.”
About Erie Technology Incubator:
The Erie Technology Incubator is a nonprofit, university-based incubator dedicated to providing customized mentoring and linking internal and external resources to create economic growth.
ETI, the only technology incubator in northwestern Pennsylvania, has housed and mentored about 80 companies since its launch in 2008 and is now at its fullest occupancy with 10 traditional incubator clients and two affiliate companies. More than 70 members of the community volunteered their time and knowledge as mentors to ETI incubator clients over the years. Current ETI portfolio company sales range from start-up to $6.5 million annually and boast staffs ranging from two to more than 45 paid employees.