Delaware Valley University Announces Judges for Fourth Annual Spark Bowl Competition

Posted on
Michael Araten, Spark Bowl Judge, President and CEO of Sterling Drive Ventures, LP
Credit: Delaware Valley University. Michael Araten, Spark Bowl Judge, President and CEO of Sterling Drive Ventures, LP

Local Bucks County Businesses will be Awarded Thousands of Dollars in Prizes

The judges for Delaware Valley University's (DelVal) fourth annual Spark Bowl were announced today. Spark Bowl, a "Shark-Tank"-like competition, will award thousands of dollars in prizes to area small businesses on November 16. Doors open at 5 p.m. to give area entrepreneurs and small businesses an opportunity to network, and the Spark Bowl event takes place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in DelVal's Life Sciences Building. The competing businesses will have 15 minutes to "pitch" their idea or product to the judges. The five finalists have been selected and represent the following industries: food, management software and applications, indoor farming, and baby products. Last year's Spark Bowl winners walked away with a total of $21,000 in prizes.

As part of DelVal's experiential learning program, advisors from the DelVal Small Business and Entrepreneur Center work with DelVal students who serve as business consultants for the competitors. The winning student teams will also be awarded prize money for their efforts. Spark Bowl is hosted by the University, the Central Bucks Chamber of Commerce, and Start Up Bucks. The competition is possible because of sponsorships from Bucks County businesses and individuals.

The judges for DelVal's fourth annual Spark Bowl are:

Michael Araten

Michael Araten is the President and CEO of Sterling Drive Ventures, LP, a family office that owns, among other things, The Rodon Group, founded in 1956. Rodon is a highly automated plastics injection molder, with a focus on small parts, used in over 100 industries, including food, beverage, pharmaceutical diagnostic packaging, windows, consumer packaged goods, construction and toys. Sterling Drive Ventures' latest venture is SillDry, a company that sets the standard for window and door flashing in residential and commercial environments.

Prior to Sterling Drive Ventures, Michael was the President and CEO of K'NEX Brands, whose K'NEX construction toy is distributed in 40 countries. Over 95% of the K'NEX component parts are made at Rodon in Hatfield, PA.

Susan Lonergan

Susan Lonergan is the Director of Middle Market and Specialized Banking for Fulton Bank's commercial sales and lending teams across five states. Sue Lonergan oversees the bank's commercial real estate, healthcare, agricultural, dealer services and middle market commercial teams.

Prior to this role, Lonergan was Regional President of Fulton Bank's Southeastern Pennsylvania Division, where she led the commercial sales and lending teams and focused on growth

strategies for the market. Under her leadership, Fulton Bank opened its first Philadelphia regional headquarters within the city, its first consumer financial centers in the city's underserved neighborhoods, as well as its first mortgage loan office.

Sue has more than 30 years of banking experience, which includes nearly 10 years as a commercial relationship manager for CoreStates Bank in the greater Philadelphia market, where she served both middle market companies and small businesses.

For almost two decades, Sue worked at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, where she progressively advanced with her responsibilities in both sales and strategy roles. Immediately prior to her current role, Sue was managing director and small business strategy and planning executive for Bank of America. In that role, she led the effort to integrate sales channels and product teams, advance referral strategies across lines of business, and improve product delivery to small businesses. She also regularly presented about small business owners' outlook on business and the economy on Bloomberg, MSNBC, WSJ and The

Blair Rush

Blair joined the C&N team as Southeast Region President in July 2020 at which time C&N acquired Covenant Bank. Blair joined the Covenant Bank team in April 2016 as President & Chief Operating Officer. Prior to this time, Blair also served as Eastern Region President with National Penn Bank, Executive Vice President with FirstService Bank, one of four original officers of the de nova FirstService Bank, and President with CoreStates and Bucks County Bank where he started his forty-three year banking career.

Blair enjoys being very active in his community serving on numerous boards & committees. Presently Blair serves on Delaware Valley University’s Board of Trustees, Central Bucks County Chamber of Commerce, and several others. Blair is a graduate of Delaware Valley College with a B.S. in Business Administration and the Pennsylvania Bankers Association’s Central Atlantic Advanced School of Banking.

William (Bill) Schutt

Mr. Schutt has been featured for his business and technical achievements in TIME Magazine, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Philadelphia Inquirer and many other publications, and has appeared on national radio and television including "Good Morning America," "Hannity & Colmes," MSNBC, FOX News, NBC, CBS and others. He has

received numerous awards for his work and worldwide projects and in 2016 received an Honorary Doctor of Letters from Delaware Valley University.

Mr. Schutt is a former member of the Delaware Valley University Board of Trustees. He serves on Drexel University's Close School of Entrepreneurship Advisory Board and on Drexel President John Fry's Leadership Council.

Mr. Schutt spends much of his time with non-profit organizations and serves on the board of several organizations. He mentors established business owners and students. He is the founder of the Delaware Valley Saxophone Quartet, which has played in venues from the Philadelphia Constitution Center to concerts on Nantucket, MA.

For more information on Spark Bowl visit