For the past three years, WPSU, Penn State University Park’s local NPR and PBS affiliate station, and the Pennsylvania Technical Assistance Program (PennTAP) have collaborated to host the statewide Inc.U undergraduate student startup competition. The competition culminates in the six finalists competing head-to-head on the live “Shark Tank-style” TV show, The Investment.
Event partners WPSU and PennTAP were faced with the possibility of needing to cancel the competition due to social distancing guidelines and had to improvise. Unable to host their usual live taping of “The Investment,” the organizations and the competition finalists pivoted the annual TV show filming to a virtual format.
PennTAP, along with experienced entrepreneurial coaches, worked with the student teams to get their pre-recorded pitches ready and prepare for questions the judges may have during the live question and answer event.
The virtual episode recording will take place privately on June 6. “The Investment” will be both released as a web episode and broadcasted on WPSU’s television station. The date of the web release and TV airing will be announced at a future date.
The six student startups competing for a share of $30,000 are:
Founded by Nino Efendic from Penn State Abington, Aerial Prospex is a commercial drone service company authorized by the FAA that specializes in progress reports, inspections, and photogrammetry.
Founded by Izaak Lustgarten from Penn State Altoona, D’Vote is a community focused app where people can donate money through rounding up their purchases.
Founded by Austin Thomas from Penn State University Park, JERPA Jeans makes sherpa-lined jeans for all your outdoor needs when you want to look fancy but feel comfortable.
Founded by Ezra Gershanok and Isaac Goodman from Penn State University Park, Keyper is a phone wallet that combines and secures a college student’s essentials: phone, ID card, and room key.
Founded by Michael Miller and Jack Quinn from Penn State University Park, LoanCrunch is a mobile app that helps students manage their student loans by providing them one platform to easily understand, manage, and repay their student debt.
Founded by Nicholas Unis and Jake Unis from Penn State University Park, Unis Brands creates fully sustainable 3D-printed footwear.
This pivot to a virtual format was made possible due to the efforts of the WPSU IT team and thanks to the following WPSU sponsors:
KCF Technologies, Everett Cash Mutual Insurance Co., Ulicny Financial Communications and Strategy, and Ben Franklin Technology Partners.
The sponsors for the competition prize money are as follows:
Invent Penn State, Ben Franklin Technology Partners, the Penn State College of Engineering, and the Robert & Tammy Morgan Entrepreneurship Fund.
Inc. U is a Penn State program partially funded by a five-year grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (USEDA) in partnership with Invent Penn State. Part of the USEDA grant funds the development of “The Investment."