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Catching up with StartUp Lehigh Valley winner: Justin Gelwicks

Lehigh Valley LaunchBox (LVLB) partnered with Factory, LLC on StartUp Lehigh Valley in November 2020 where ten entrepreneurs, selected to participate through an application process, presented a virtual, two-minute live pitch with their business ideas to the panel of judges and virtual audience in a lively shark-tank style event. Participants had a chance to win an award that was part of the $10,000 in prize money from event sponsor Penn State Lehigh Valley LaunchBox. JPMorgan Chase & Co. also served as an event sponsor.

Now LVLB checks in with event winners on their progress, their advice for other entrepreneurs and how they are benefitting from being part of LVLB.

Justin Gelwicks, founder of WoodGoods Lacrosse, received the grand prize of $3,500 and the Audience Choice Award of $1,000 for high-quality wooden lacrosse sticks that can be personalized with players’ names, numbers, and logos. Gelwicks is an undergraduate student at Lehigh University.

Q: What inspired you to start your business?

Gelwicks: I was mugged when I was a freshman in college. I could no longer play lacrosse because I had to take medical leave from school. I used that time to take an apprenticeship in fine woodworking and furniture design. As my way of saying goodbye to lacrosse, I decided to make wooden shafts for every player on the team. After seeing how much my teammates loved them, I decided to see if they would sell at lacrosse tournaments. The sales exceeded my wildest expectations!

Q: What was your biggest challenge before receiving this prize money from LVLB through StartUP Lehigh Valley? Has it helped you overcome your challenge – if so, in what way?

Gelwicks: My biggest challenge was getting the website up and running. However, because of the money I received through StartUp LV and mentoring from LVLB, the website is producing sales at a very high conversion rate!

Q: What LVLB services have you taken advantage of/plan to take advantage of?

Gelwicks: Mentoring from incredibly knowledgeable staff is not all you get when you join LVLB– their connections transcend the organization and they will connect you to experts in any field who are more than happy to help.

Q: What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs as they start their businesses?

Gelwicks: Don’t start a business unless you absolutely love what you are doing! The drive that you need to be successful can only be fueled by something that you are truly passionate about and obsessed with. Moreover, fall in love with creating value for your customers; your products should be designed around creating the best experience for your target customer. Further tailoring your value proposition for more specific, niche individuals in that target audience will greatly improve your success.