Success Story

5 startup teams selected for 2021 Summer Founders program

The Summer Founders program selected five teams from a pool of applicants spanning eight different Penn State campuses, four academic colleges, and The Graduate School at Penn State. The program cohort will get to participate in a 13-week entrepreneurial bootcamp, and each team will receive a $15,000 grant to work full-time on their startup, social good or nonprofit idea during the summer. Teams also will have access to Happy Valley LaunchBox powered by PNC Bank for one year upon its reopening, in addition to its network of 80-plus advisers. This year’s programming is scheduled to be all-virtual and will run from May 19 through Aug. 11, culminating with a Startup Showcase on Aug. 11.

“The Summer Founders program is an amazing opportunity for students to receive mentorship, networking resources, and a $15,000 equity-free gift to help them accelerate and de-risk their ventures,” said Lee Erickson, chief amplifier of Happy Valley LaunchBox. “It’s amazing to watch the growth students make with their company, as well as with their leadership and entrepreneurial skills. In fact, some of our most successful student startups participated in this program.”

This year’s Summer Founders startups are listed below:

  • AURA is building a social media platform based on music sharing, primarily and initially targeted toward college students. The startup is led by Harsh Tyagi, a College of Engineering student studying Aerospace Engineering, Jackson Oates, a College of Information Sciences and Technology student studying Cybersecurity, and Bethany Fetsko, an Eberly College of Science student studying Computational Mathematics.
  • Cyclone, an automated recommendation platform, helps maintenance technicians prolong the lives of their machines, reducing downtime and maintenance costs through artificial intelligence-based predictive insights. The startup is led by Sean Vaez, an ENTI Minor student studying Sociology, Kshitij Dawar, a Ph.D. in Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering in the College of Engineering, Peter Sauer, a Northwestern University student pursuing a Master’s in Robotics, and Mike Allan, pursuing a Master’s of Professional Studies in Management and Organizational Leadership at The Graduate School at Penn State.
  • QuestUni provides students with networking, research and career development opportunities tailored to their college to improve collaboration and increase innovation at universities. The startup is led by College of Engineering students Jason Fink (Aerospace Engineering), Manuel Andres Roshardt (Biomedical Engineering) and Joseph Brighter (Computer Science).
  • SLCKR produces fashionable and functional wearables for barbers designed to solve current industry problems. The startup is led by Tyler Tracy, an ENTI Minor and College of Engineering student studying Industrial Engineering, and Ben Johnson, a Smeal College of Business student studying Economics with a concentration in Business and Law.
  • Sports Data Now (SDN), a sports data and analytics platform, aims to improve upon the current landscape of free-to-the-public sports data websites through its user-friendly interface, fully customizable data presentation, integrated fantasy and sports betting information, and community statistics add-ons. The startup is led by Andrew Briglia, an ENTI Minor and College of Engineering student studying Industrial Engineering, and 2016 Penn State graduates Ryan Briglia and Taylor Mazeski.

Summer Founders is a signature program of the Invent Penn State initiative and is provided in partnership with Happy Valley LaunchBox. Startup funding is made possible through the donations of successful alumni entrepreneurs interested in supporting new student ventures. For more information about the program, visit

For more information about Happy Valley LaunchBox, visit

To view more Penn State affiliated startups, visit

To find more student entrepreneur resources, visit