Berks LaunchBox announces Summer 2023 Pitch Competition winners

Seven people pose for a photo holding certificates

Pictured (left to right) are Berks LaunchBox Pitch Competition winners with LaunchBox staff: NK James Hong, LaunchBox Makerspace Coordinator; Michelle Hnath, LaunchBox Facilities Coordinator; Brandon Everett, Bapanada; Karen Tripolitis, Mindful Roots; Denavio Leeks, Aquamate; Lisa Weaver, Penn State Social Entrepreneurship Specialist; and Sollangy Nunez, 4G Nutrition. 

Credit: Penn State

WYOMISSING, Pa. –—The Berks LaunchBox powered by Penn State recently announced the pitch winners of its Summer 2023 Pitch Competition. Bapanada took first place, 4G Nutrition took second, and Aquamate and Mindful Roots tied for third place. Total prizes awarded totaled $1,200 in seed funding. 

The competition began with entrepreneurs attending a webinar titled “Step-by-Step Process for Creating a Killer Pitch Deck.” Attendees learned how to develop a product pitch to share their startup idea with investors, advisers and others.

Entrepreneurs were invited to practice and polish their pitches with Berks LaunchBox staff. Then they pitched their business ideas to Berks LaunchBox Advisory Council members and advisers for additional feedback, networking and an opportunity to secure seed funding. 

Bapanada, a Latin vegan catering business founded by Penn State Berks adult learner Brandon Everett, strives to show that alternative eating can be both delicious and beneficial to the planet. Bapanada received $500 in funding. 4G Nutrition, a fresh juice and açai bar owned by Sollangy Nunez, offers cold-pressed juices, açai bowls, smoothies and a family-friendly play area for kids. 4G Nutrition received $300 in funding. 

Aquamate, an online store that replicates a tropical environment for aquatic plants founded by Denavio Leeks, and Mindful Roots, a startup that provides teachers and counselors with hands-on training to teach children mindfulness and yoga founded by Karen Tripolitis, received $200 in funding each. 

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 space 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, coworking 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 — the University's commonwealth-wide initiative to spur economic development, job creation and student success. For more information, visit the Berks LaunchBox website or contact Erica Kunkel, Berks LaunchBox director, at 610-396-6221 or via email at [email protected]