Lehigh Valley LaunchBox announces first grant recipients

Program supports entrepreneurs with micro grants and mentorship
Lehigh Valley LaunchBox
Credit: Penn State

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. — The Executive Committee of the Advisory Board of Lehigh Valley LaunchBox, a University- and community-sponsored business accelerator program, approved and announced $50,000 in micro grants to 13 projects for the program’s initial award cycle.

Applications were submitted over a four-month process. While not all requests were funded, the process yielded a diverse mix of Penn State students, faculty and Lehigh Valley community entrepreneurs comprising the final projects.

“We are thrilled and energized by the applications that came in to Lehigh Valley LaunchBox. I want to thank the Lehigh Valley LaunchBox Advisory Board, which is a diverse and dedicated group of local professionals, who will be mentoring awardees and assisting with our projects,” said Tina Q. Richardson, chancellor of Penn State Lehigh Valley. “All of this is sparking an entrepreneurial spirit on our campus and motivating additional students and faculty to get involved.”

The Lehigh Valley LaunchBox 2015-16 portfolio consists of awards ranging from $1,000 to $8,000.

The companies and projects to receive funding include the following:

HatchLabs, software development of a “Virtual Incubator,” especially for higher education entrepreneurship programs, which will be a platform for Lehigh Valley LaunchBox projects to share knowledge, communicate and grow within an entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Team: Steve Boerner

Crowdplsr, app development to provide a crowdfunding platform that also provides real-time access to the demand from fans for concerts and events within specific markets.
Team: George Richie, Jeff Minton, John Riener and David Moyer

MindMe Inc., a mobile application for small business owners to attract new leads, schedule customer visits and drive customer engagement.
Team: Jeff Cohen and Alex Zhitomirsky

Josh Nichols, recording, producing, advertising and distribution of his music.

Kim’s Black Belt Academy, development of a new website for the tae kwon do school.
Team: Anthony Toczek

Paige Lilly, development of a website targeting body-building enthusiasts with interactive capabilities to feature personal coaching, nutrition information and advice.

Get2Greater, app development that will allow nonprofit organizations to collect, organize, view and share data.
Team: Aryaman Khandelwal

Eternally Art, development of a philanthropic organization to create personalized, high quality, artistic funeral urns.
Team: Matthew Heintzelman

Voices Renewed, software program to enhance the life story collection method process, developed with guidance from Phoebe Ministries.
Team: Mahdi Chaker, Marietta Scanlon, Michael Cimerola

Integrate Energy Solutions for Entrepreneurs, materials to continue developing and researching energy solutions to address real-world problems in the areas of green energy and LED light applications.
Team: Tai-Yin Huang

Auxilium Medical Services, equipment for medical scribes to chart in real time alongside a physician.
Team: Vinod Jeyaretnam

TeraDrones, LCC, professional cases for flight equipment and POV cameras.
Team: Nicholas Miller

FenzTech, development of a station for drones (DronePort) to wirelessly charge its batteries.
Team: Michael Yang

“We are excited to directly support these budding entrepreneurs and to begin creating the ‘Virtual Incubator’ of Lehigh Valley LaunchBox, which will help increase our impact and provide key connections for our 13 portfolio companies," said Bill Hacker, chairman of the Lehigh Valley LaunchBox Advisory Board.

Grant recipients cited a number of reasons for applying to Lehigh Valley LaunchBox and described the multiple ways this funding will benefit their companies and projects.

"Lehigh Valley LaunchBox has provided me both with an environment conducive to innovation and progressive thinking, as well as the means to pursue my passion and help people on a global level,” said Khandelwal, a Parkland High School sophomore and innovator of Get2Greater. “Having the support from a reputed university like Penn State will enable me to reach a greater number of people to tackle health issues in India and other such places in the future.”

The Lehigh Valley LaunchBox program will continue to award micro grants to proposals in future award cycles. All Lehigh Valley community members and Penn State faculty, staff and students who have a scalable business idea are welcome to apply for affiliation with the Lehigh Valley LaunchBox.

Partners of Lehigh Valley LaunchBox will link micro grant recipients to alumni, business leaders and academic partners to provide mentorship and to help launch their ideas and turn them into useful products.

The grant recipients will be able to utilize the co-working and meeting spaces of Lehigh Valley LaunchBox, located at Velocity, City Center Lehigh Valley’s startup business incubator in downtown Allentown. This space was donated by City Center.

Lehigh Valley LaunchBox was created as part of the Invent Penn State initiative. Invent Penn State is focused on leveraging Penn State’s research, knowledge and entrepreneurial spirit to bring to market needed ideas, products and services.

Penn State President Eric J. Barron presented Penn State Lehigh Valley with a seed funding award last year for $50,000 to initiate the Lehigh Valley LaunchBox program. Penn State Lehigh Valley is one of six Penn State campuses that received these funds to enhance local partnerships and entrepreneurial environments as part of Barron's Invent Penn State initiative.

Five additional entrepreneurship center programs have been funded by Invent Penn State in five other Commonwealth Campus communities, including Abington, Behrend, Harrisburg, New Kensington and Wilkes-Barre.

For more information about Lehigh Valley LaunchBox, visit lehighvalley.psu.edu/launchbox or email Faculty Liaison Mike Krajsa at [email protected]

For more information about the Invent Penn State initiative, visit invent.psu.edu.

Lehigh Valley LaunchBox ribbon cutting

Penn State President Eric J. Barron and Penn State Lehigh Valley Chancellor Tina Q. Richardson held a ribbon cutting Dec. 17 with City Center Lehigh Valley President J.B. Reilly and local dignitaries for the co-working space of Lehigh Valley LaunchBox at Velocity, City Center Lehigh Valley’s startup business incubator in downtown Allentown. Lehigh Valley LaunchBox is an initiative of Invent Penn State. 

Credit: Penn State Lehigh Valley's Multimedia Innovation Center