news & events

Start Up Lehigh Valley

LaunchBox IconA cutting-edge health monitoring device took home the top prize in the 5th Annual Start Up Lehigh Valley pitch competition held on Wednesday, October 25 at Factory LLC in Bethlehem.

The pitch competition is a Shark Tank-style event for local entrepreneurs designed to showcase innovation happening in the community and support the next generation of local business leaders.  Laura McHugh, vice president, marketing and communications, United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley, and Bo Koltnow, anchor/reporter at 69-WFMZ, hosted the event.

Sixty entries were received and narrowed down to seven finalists—one from California—whose businesses included health care, equine care, food/beverage, games, and technology. The finalists made their pitches to a panel of judges during the live and online event.

The winners were:

Jonathan Maderic, J Mad Creations, Inc. won the $20,000 Grand Prize, a $500 Boost Award from PSU-LV, and six months of support from Lehigh Ventures Lab, presented by Lisa Getzler, vice president, entrepreneurship. Maderic, a Penn State alumni, created a device that better measures pulse and oxygen in people with dark skin.

Alexander Wesley, Splay, first runner up, took the $3,000 prize. Splay is an expandable display that triples a laptop screen’s size, yet folds to the size of a headphone case.

Abdulrasaq “Dulra” Amolegbe, Dot, Inc., was second runner up. The venture won $2,000, as well as a $5,000 award as the top early-stage technology-based firm from Ben Franklin Technology Partners, presented by Angelo Valletta, president and CEO, Ben Franklin Technology Partners, and a $500 Boost Award from PSU-LV. Dot is a digital banking experience for immigrant students in Africa.”

April Schiel, The Bedding Blocker/MuckMeister Enterprises, won the $3,000 Founder’s Award and the $1,000 Audience Choice Award, presented by Nathan Urban, provost and academic affairs, Lehigh University. Bedding Blocker keeps bedding in horse stalls while keeping mud out.

Aly Kenawy, Voize Box, was the third winner of a $500 Boost Award from PSU-LV. VoizeBox is a voice-centered social media platform.

The prize money  is awarded by Lehigh Valley LaunchBox (LVLB), Lehigh University, and Ben Franklin Technology Partners. LVLB is an innovation hub based at Penn State Lehigh Valley (PSU-LV) that provides startup resources for new enterprises, including but not limited to free legal advice, office space, and advice from expert business advisors.

Prizes totaling more than $33,000 were awarded, including the $20,000 grand prize to J Mad Creations, Inc. Tina Q. Richardson, PSU-LV chancellor, presented $4,500 in prizes on behalf of PSU-LV—a $3,000 Founders Award and three $500 Boost Awards.

“Penn State Lehigh Valley is committed to developing the next generation of entrepreneurs, which is why competitions like StartUp Lehigh Valley are so important,” Richardson said. “With Gen Z dominating the startup business market, it’s no surprise that co-founders Penn State Lehigh Valley and Factory LLC want to be involved with entrepreneurship in .”

The panel of judges included Giana Jarrah, founder, Meraki Co. and 2022 Start Up Lehigh Valley grand prize winner; Rich Thompson, founder, Factory LLC; Sue Yee, founder and CEO, Active Data; George Lewis, senior assistant to the president & CEO, Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation.