Inc.U Competition

Kickstart Your Business

Six undergraduate teams from across the commonwealth compete for a $30,000 cash investment pool. Finalist teams receive other support specially designed to help their startups gain traction including business mentors, professionally designed marketing videos, and showcase opportunities. The winners will be announced during Penn State Startup Week powered by PNC in March.

Learn more about the 2024 Competition winners

2024 Top 6 Teams

  • Bootleg Boomerangs offers user-friendly boomerangs, providing a tool for mindful outdoor play and making boomerangs accessible to all ages and skill levels. The startup is founded by Riley Auer, a student in the College of Engineering.
  • Marble is revolutionizing the journaling experience by creating a dynamic, personalized and interactive platform to overcome the hurdle of sustaining the journaling habit and improving mental health. The startup is founded by students Mehul Aggarwal and Mihir Kulkarni from the College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST); Harsh Maheshwari, Aviral Bansal and Matthew Walter from the College of Engineering; and Elita Wadhwa from the College of the Liberal Arts.
  • Saveware is helping save clients’ money on sales and use tax overpayments. The startup is founded by Braeden Davidson, a student in the Smeal College of Business, and Ryan Jai Hokimi from the College of Engineering.
  • is simplifying the online selling process for small- to medium-sized businesses by cross-listing on multiple marketplaces. The startup is founded by students Tanishq Barot from the College of IST; Gauri Patil, Prajnay Kataria, Manav Shah and Zack Walknok from the College of Engineering; and Camila Mould from the Smeal College of Business.
  • Shamba Share is increasing access to agricultural equipment for Kenyan smallholder farmers and helping them avoid downtime and increase returns. The startup is part of the Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship program and is founded by students Jaiden Asch and Samuel Marsh from the Smeal College of Business and Veer Gowda from the Eberly College of Science.
  • Streamline Charging LLC offers a unique solution to reduce the cost of installation for apartment complex owners and increase availability of EV charging stations. The startup originated in the engineering program at Penn State Berks, specifically through a mechanical engineering independent study program. Streamline Charging completed the Flemming Creativity, Entrepreneurship, and Economic Development Center’s Customer Discovery Lab. The student team includes Jonathan Smith, Shayaan Ghandi, Rohan Chaudhary and Nathan Vreeland from the College of Engineering and Loc Phan from the Eberly College of Science.

Curious to know what it’s like being a student startup founder? Hear from the experiences of the 2022 Inc.U winners.

6 Student Startups
3 Judges
$30,000 in Funding
1 Epic Pitch Competition

Key Dates

Virtual Information Session: November 30, 2023, Watch recording

Video Submissions Due: January 19, 2024

Finalists Announced: February 2, 2024

Live Finalist Presentations: March 16, 2024

Recognition Reception: March 21, 2024

Learn more about the program.

Application Process

Applications are closed. Each team should submit one 2–3-minute video about their idea. The video should cover the following. Creativity is encouraged!

  • The problem you want to solve and why it is important.
  • How you plan to solve the problem.
  • Why you are passionate about this topic, and
  • Information about your team.

From these video submissions, a select number of teams will be chosen for an in-person interview. From this interview pool, six teams will be selected to compete in the finalist event. The finalist event will be a live event in March at University Park, held on Saturday, March 16, 2024, and will kick-off Startup Week powered by PNC. These six teams compete for a $30,000 cash investment pool. Finalist teams will also be provided other services specifically designed to help their startups gain traction, such as business mentors, a professionally designed marketing video, access to prior winners and plenty of opportunities to showcase their teams and their idea.

All finalist teams must have a legal entity and EIN number. If your team does not already have a legal entity established at the time of application, they MUST start the process immediately following their notification as a finalist team. Legal support to assist in the process is available through the Penn State Law Entrepreneur Assistance Clinic.

There is no entry fee to participate. Submitting an application includes agreeing to the competition’s rules and procedures, as well as allowing Inc.U and its organizers to use photographs, video and materials presented during the pitch as promotional materials.

Resources for Student Startups

Not sure what to expect or how to pitch your idea? Get inspiration from last year’s finalist teams:


Eligible Penn State students are current undergraduate students working towards a degree, and either attend one of the campuses located within the state of Pennsylvania or have a PA based company. Students must also be in good standing at the time of the application and remain so throughout the competition.

Eligible companies are those that are owned 51% or more by one or more eligible Penn State students and must be registered to do business in PA. All entries must have a legal entity to be given cash investment. If your team does not already have a legal entity, you MUST begin this process immediately following your notification that you have been selected as a finalist team, so that award payments can be made according to the payment deadlines.

Excluded companies are companies that been selected for prior Inc.U awards or have raised more than $100,000 from institutional investors. Teams that have participated in Inc.U in the past, but did not win a cash award, are still eligible to compete.

Application Form & Deadline

Teams are required to submit an online Application Form. The Application Form, in addition to team contact information and agreement with the competition’s rules and procedures, also includes a release allowing Inc.U and its organizers to use photographs, videos, and materials presented during the pitch as promotional materials.

Entry is deemed to be made by submitting a completed Entry Form together with a 2-3-minute video.

All declarations made on the application are subject to review.

Presentation and Judging Criteria

Finalist presentations are to be held live at University Park on a Saturday, March 16, 2024. Teams are expected to be present during the day the Friday prior for practice pitches and competition briefings. Those teams needing to travel from other campuses, lodging and travel costs will be covered for your participation.

Team size, for the purpose of pitching in the finalist competition, is limited to TWO individuals, who must also both be eligible Penn State students. Additional team members and non-PSU team members are welcomed and encouraged to participate in other aspects of the competition, such as the mentoring, coaching, video preparation, etc.

Presentation time will be limited to 2.5 minutes with a limited amount of slides. No prototypes and props may be used during the presentation.

Judging criteria will evaluate student presentations based on the overall goal of the Inc.U Competition and in alignment with the Invent Penn State initiative to promote economic development, job creation and student success.

Criteria will include, but may not be limited to:

  • Clarity of problem definition
  • Uniqueness and viability of the solution
  • Market attributes and scalability
  • Team progress and credibility
  • Explanation and justification for use of funds
  • Quality of presentation and Q&A

Judges will independently score and then collaborate on all decisions. Judges decisions are final. Judges have complete discretion on how the investment pool is distributed to the finalist teams.

Payment of Cash Awards

All cash awards will be made out to the company, therefore award requests can only be submitted once a legal entity is established and one the company has been approved for payment through the PSU procurement process. Cash awards must be specifically requested by the company selected for an award. These requests should be made as soon as possible following the competition, and no payment is guaranteed for any team making their award requests after June 30 of that year. For teams who also need to establish their legal entity and EIN number, they should do so immediately after they are announced as a finalist to ensure payment is able to be made in a timely manner.

No equity position is taken as a result of these cash awards.

Intellectual Property

Students retain all rights to the materials created and ideas presented at Inc.U. Student teams should carefully assess the applicability of all IP rights and laws to any and all presentations and disclosures made during the Inc.U competition.