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Catching up with StartUp Lehigh Valley winner: Quarbon

Lehigh Valley LaunchBox (LVLB) partnered with Factory, LLC on StartUp Lehigh Valley in November 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 eventParticipants 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 Slusarski is founder of Quarbon, the environmental and social impact scorecard connecting consumers with businesses that are actually making a positive impact. He won a $500 LaunchBox Boost Award at StartUp Lehigh Valley.

Q: What inspired you to start your business? 

Slusarski: After working in the renewable energy and cleantech space for the last seven years, I saw that business owners care about their impact on the environment as much as the customers they serve, but it was challenging for small business owners to easily identify sustainable solutions AND communicate their efforts effectively with their customer base. So, we want to not only increase the sustainability of these businesses, but we want to increase their revenue opportunities by connecting them to more consumers who are actively seeking businesses making a positive impact. 

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? 

Slusarski: The biggest challenge we are facing currently is marketing. We are creating a dual-facing platform that needs both businesses and consumers to engage, so it is challenging to target both customer segments. We are deciding to go with a business focus first to improve the value proposition of our platform by providing them a simple scorecard to measure their impact, solutions to improve, and access to a consumer-facing directory. The grant definitely helps us recruit marketing experts to focus our efforts. 

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

Slusarski: The free office space is awesome! The free legal work is also one of the best kept secrets in the Lehigh Valley. Both of these are definitely huge incentives for Quarbon to increase their footprint in the Lehigh Valley. We look forward to recruiting talent from the Lehigh Valley network and connecting with business owners who are either already employing sustainability practices and need help verifying their impact or business owners that are just beginning their journey into sustainability. LVLB helps us do both!

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

Slusarski: Just start. Fail. Learn. Improve. Repeat. There is no better feeling knowing that you have full control and autonomy to create something from nothing. There is a huge network of entrepreneurs and mentors and support systems like LVLB that want you to succeed and have every resource available to help. Just start sharing your story and vision with people.