Success Story

  • David Brantley headshot

App connecting shoppers with small business deals wins $7,500

A first-place prize of $7,500 was awarded to local startup Marqo in the Ben Franklin Technology Partners TechCelerator @ State College virtual pitch event, where six entrepreneurial teams pitched their business concepts for more than $10,000 in prizes at the end of 2021. Teams showcased products, platforms, and services that spanned across health care and agriculture, among additional markets and industries.

Marqo, the winning startup led by David Brantley, is a phone application that connects shoppers with discounts and deals offered by local small businesses. In addition to earning the first-place prize, Marqo took home an additional $1,000 via the People’s Choice Award, which was voted on by the pitch event’s virtual audience. Marqo and Brantley previously participated in Penn State Mont Alto’s LION Tank Competition.

A $2,500 second-place prize was awarded to Wanqing Zhang and Jackson Meeks with Functional Circuits, which develops flexible, wearable electronics targeting the health care industry.

“This cohort represented an exciting mix of emerging products and services,” TechCelerator Program Director Bob Dornich said. “I’m sure it was no easy feat for the judges to make their decision. Congratulations to the winners and to all who participated in the past 10 weeks.”

Prior to the pitch event, TechCelerator @ State College teams attended a 10-week virtual, business startup bootcamp in fall 2021 offered by Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central and Northern Pennsylvania in partnership with Invent Penn State. This business startup bootcamp teaches topics that include customer discovery and accounting, among others.

Additional fall TechCelerator @ State College teams included:

  • Fair Plate – a custom software product for assisting amateur baseball and softball umpires in making correct calls led by College of Information Sciences and Technology part-time adjunct professor Dr. Kory Blose.
  • Social Shopper – a marketplace platform that allows friends and family to engage with purchase decisions.
  • – a global, dedicated storage network that generates a continuous stream of crypto rewards.
  • Cannapy Tents – a greenhouse Internet of Things (IoT) climate sensor that monitors temperature, humidity, moisture, and critical factors related to greenhouse farming.

To view more Penn State-affiliated startups, visit To view more Penn State technologies available for license, visit

About Ben Franklin TechCelerator @ State College

In partnership with Invent Penn State, Ben Franklin TechCelerator @ State College offers startup accelerators and entrepreneurial training for regional entrepreneurs, students, faculty members, and small business owners. The innovative program contributes to an entrepreneurial climate, increases technology transfer opportunities, and helps develop a robust startup culture around State College, Penn State, and the surrounding area.