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Bethlehem startup led by college student wins prize worth $110,000 in regional competition

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Blaise Delfino, founder/CEO of Fader Plugs LLC. (Photo courtesy of East Stroudsburg University)
Blaise Delfino, founder/CEO of Fader Plugs LLC. (Photo courtesy of East Stroudsburg University)

A startup headed by a Bethlehem resident earned first place in a regional business competition for an ear plug that adjusts to noise levels.

Blaise Delfino, an East Stroudsburg University graduate student and CEO/founder of Fader Plugs LLC, said he and his team won $110,000 and won first place in the collegiate sector of the TecBRIDGE Business Plan Competition on April 27.

The prize money the team won is comprised of $100,000 in related business services and $10,000 in cash.

For Delfino, 25, it represents the realization of a dream.

“It’s the greatest feeling in the world; I couldn’t do it without my team,” Delfino said.

Delfino started Fader Plugs LLC as a hearing solutions company that has a patent-pending design on the first of its many products, the Fader Plug. The adjustable mechanical design allows the consumer to adjust noise levels without taking the plug out of the ear.

“Ever since I can remember, I was always exposed to loud noises and the importance of hearing protection,” Delfino said.

However, he wanted to do something about the stigma that he said can be found among those of his generation regarding the use of hearing protection.

“I thought to myself, ‘Why don’t we remove the stigma associated with wearing hearing protection?’ ” Delfino said. “We’ve been working diligently on engineering. We just finished the product development stage and then we will be doing product testing.”

It took the company several weeks to create a system that could block out sound, taking into account both function and form, he said.

“The goal is first and foremost to release a product that resonates, not only with concert goers, but those in industry,” Delfino said. “I know that our product will go global.”

He is preparing to conduct a pilot study with local companies.

Delfino will graduate May 5 from East Stroudsburg University with a master’s degree in communication sciences and disorders.

The competition took place at the Mohegan Sun Pocono in Plains Township, near Wilkes-Barre, and is comprised of two sectors, collegiate and noncollegiate. Students from 14 area colleges and universities were eligible to participate.

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Brian Pedersen

Brian Pedersen

Reporter Brian Pedersen covers construction, development, warehousing and real estate and keeps you up to date on the changing landscape of our community. He can be reached at brianp@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 4108. Follow him on Twitter @BrianLehigh and read his blog, “Can You Dig It,” at http://www.lvb.com/section/can-you-dig-it.

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