WYOMISSING, Pa. — Berks LaunchBox powered by Penn State recently announced the winners of its Idea TestLab accelerator final pitch competition. The competition concluded a six-week-long virtual business idea accelerator in which seven selected startups received coaching and training to identify viable business models through intensive customer discovery. Program participants included a select cohort of Pennsylvania-based community entrepreneurs with early-stage, scalable business ideas.
During the program, startups interviewed customers, built their business models, and crafted their elevator pitches. The program culminated in a pitch competition, in which teams competed for seed funding to continue development of their business models.
In an exciting last-minute development, an anonymous pitch competition attendee donated $1,850 to the already existing $1,000 in prize winnings available during the event, and designated that all six teams would receive a monetary award.
The top three competition winners include:
1st place ($1,000 in seed funding):
RISCQ Healthcare (Talonda Rogers and Dina Torrie, founders) – Their mission is to help women and families feel empowered to advocate for themselves to seek necessary medical treatment by providing evidence-based educational information through an app and ‘smart’ pregnant stuffed animal, that will help decrease the probability of adverse outcomes due to the complications faced before and after birth.
2nd place ($750 in seed funding):
Warrantycheck (Tom Wentling - founder) — Developed a streamlined warranty registration process utilizing e-receipts and QR codes to make it more simplistic for the end user and to increase company registration rates. This will help companies by reducing product malfunction, liability and fraud, while improving customer service and product development.
3rd place ($500 in seed funding):
Dotterer Educational Consulting (Cheri Dotterer - founder) — Designs and delivers professional development materials to instruct school-based occupational therapists and parents to help students overcome the social-emotional trauma and challenges associated with dysgraphia, a writing challenge that affects one in three people and impedes college/career-readiness.
Competition judges included:
- Erika Swift — operations director for Penn State College of Medicine’s Center for Medical Innovation, which helps accelerate technology development through education, discovery, proof of concept programs, funding initiatives and startup support. Swift also serves as the President of BioStrategy Partners, Inc. a 501c3 nonprofit consortium of seven academic medical centers and research institutes committed to the development and transfer of academic research into the marketplace.
- Jobany Bedoya — director of development for ASSETS Lancaster, a nonprofit organization that assists start-up and existing businesses through training, lending, and consulting. His professional experiences include small and minority business support, banking, and retail management. He is also an entrepreneur who owns both Red Tie Affairs, a mobile DJ and entertainment company, and a consulting business that assists small and minority businesses in Berks County.
- Adrean Turner — global leader, coach and speaker recognized for mental and performance fitness expertise. Her clients span across multiple industries. Turner is the author of "F.I.T. for Success: Fearless. Inspired. Transformed for Success." She is also an adjunct professor of business at Alvernia and Widener Universities.
About Berks LaunchBox
The mission of Berks LaunchBox, located in Suite 105 of the GoggleWorks Center for the Arts in downtown Reading, is to support economic development and entrepreneurship. An innovation hub of Penn State Berks, Berks LaunchBox connects local entrepreneurs to the support, resources, and facilities that they need to build sustainable and scalable businesses with a viable plan for growth. Services include assistance with prototyping, conducting market research, and connecting with advisers. Berks LaunchBox offers entrepreneurship workshops, co-working space for startups, Meetups focused on business development, a makerspace with 3D printers for prototyping, and special youth programs.
Berks LaunchBox is supported by Invent Penn State — a commonwealth-wide initiative to spur economic development, job creation and student success, launched by Penn State President Eric J. Barron in 2016. For more information, For more information, visit berkslaunchbox.psu.edu or contact Erica Kunkel, Berks LaunchBox interim director, at [email protected] or 610-396-6221.