CENTER VALLEY, Pa. — Penn State Lehigh Valley’s LaunchBox is once again partnering with Factory LLC on the third annual StartUp Lehigh Valley pitch competition for budding entrepreneurs.
This year’s event will take place from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 27, at Factory’s headquarters, located at 315 Columbia St. in Bethlehem, and will be broadcast live on WFMZ-TV 69 News. There, 10 finalists will participate in a “Shark Tank”-style event designed to showcase startup companies within the Lehigh Valley and throughout the state.
The finalists will pitch their products and businesses to a panel of judges in front of a live and virtual audience. As the event’s lead sponsor, Penn State Lehigh Valley LaunchBox will present $10,000 in prize money amongst the winning pitches — $5,000 to the grand-prize winner, $2,500 to the first runner-up, $1,000 to the Audience Choice Award winner, and $500 each to three LaunchBox Boost Award winners.
Entrepreneurs have until Friday, Oct. 15, to apply at startuplehighvalley.com. Startup founders and entrepreneurs from any industry are welcome to apply to pitch. Participants must be age 18 or older and their company must be based in Pennsylvania.
All of the participants will have the opportunity to network at the event and are invited to take advantage of LaunchBox’s comprehensive startup services, including free legal counsel, access to grant funding, coaching and more.
“From the first person to rub sticks together to start a fire to those who sparked the industrial age, innovation has lit our pathway to progress,” said Penn State Lehigh Valley Chancellor Tina Q. Richardson. “But an idea, no matter how bright, is just an idea until an individual with talent, support — and gumption — captures, creates, packages and successfully promotes it for profit: the entrepreneur. They are the backbone of our workforce, the root of all business, and the reason we formed LaunchBox — to double down on our commitment to foster innovation in our region. We are so pleased to be part of this exciting event and look forward to helping these aspiring entrepreneurs gain exposure and traction through this partnership with Factory, and by connecting them to Penn State’s massive network of startup resources moving forward.”
“The StartUp Lehigh Valley pitch competition is designed to showcase the entrepreneurship that’s already happening in the valley and get the community excited about supporting these local startups,” said Richard Thompson, managing partner at Factory, a scale-up facility and investor for food, beverage and pet brands. “We are thrilled to be partnering with WFMZ this year to broadcast the event live and reach more people than ever before. We also want to applaud Penn State Lehigh Valley LaunchBox for working with us to pull off this competition, and for providing vital resources to our local entrepreneurs year-round.”
The pitch contest will be hosted by Thompson and Liz Keptner, director of Penn State Lehigh Valley's Multimedia Innovation Center and an Emmy Award-winning producer and host.
The finalists will have two minutes to make their pitch, and from there will be asked a round of questions by the judges, who are: Sue Yee, founder and CEO of Active Data, a digital products and services company focused on event commerce and online ticketing; Dan Bosket, entrepreneur and owner of several small businesses, and an adviser for Lehigh Valley LaunchBox; Tony Ianelli, CEO and president of the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce; and Roly Nesi, founder of ROAR Organic, an electrolyte beverage enhanced with vitamins and antioxidants.
The in-person audience at StartUp Lehigh Valley is limited to 100, and those interested in attending must register in advance at startuplehighvalley.com. Audience members and finalists will be asked to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination.
About Lehigh Valley LaunchBox
Lehigh Valley LaunchBox is a Penn State- and community-sponsored business accelerator program created as part of the Invent Penn State initiative. The Lehigh Valley LaunchBox program awards micro grants to budding entrepreneurs. Partners of Lehigh Valley LaunchBox link micro grant-recipients to alumni, business leaders, and academic partners to provide mentorship and to help launch ideas and turn them into useful products. 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.