Success Story

Four student startups win funding in Inc.U Competition

UNIVERSITY PARK – Student startup Saveware won $15,000, the largest prize amount, in the 2024 Invent Penn State Inc.U Competition. Kicking off Penn State Startup Week powered by PNC, six Penn State student teams pitched their startup to a panel of judges and competed for up to $30,000 in funding. 

Founded by Brady Davidson, sophomore in the Smeal College of Business, and Ryan Hokimi, junior in the College of Engineering, Saveware leverages artificial intelligence to automate the sales tax refund process for businesses and tax firms, identifying and recouping overpaid sales taxes on invoices. 

“Inc.U was such a great experience regardless of the funding,” said Davidson. “It pushed us to accelerate our business and practice pitching it to potential investors. The money we won will allow us to explore different technological options and grow our client base rapidly.” 

“Inc.U was an amazing opportunity,” said Hokimi. “The support throughout this entire process was unmatched and really gave us the opportunity to evaluate everything we’re doing as a startup and build confidence in our solution. The prize money was also invaluable and will give us the chance to really grow over the next few months. We can’t wait for the next steps ahead.” 

The following student startups were also awarded funding: 

  • $10,000 was awarded to Streamline Charging, which offers a unique solution to reduce the cost of Electric Vehicle (EV) charging station 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.   
  • $5,000 was awarded to Marble, which 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.  
  • $2,500 People’s Choice Award was awarded to Shamba Share, which 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 Marshall from the Smeal College of Business and Veer Gowda from the Eberly College of Science.   

Other Inc.U Competition finalists included: 

  • 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.   
  • 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.  

“This year, we had another exceptional cohort of student founders who presented their startups. Watching their development throughout the program and their final presentations before the judges was truly inspiring,” remarked Joanna Sutton, Inc.U Competition director and innovation coordinator of Corner LaunchBox powered by Penn State New Kensington. “We are so excited to see the continual growth of all the startups that participated this year.” 

Prior to the competition, finalists gained access to pitch training and startup support services. In addition, teams received support from the Penn State Law Entrepreneur Assistance Clinic to help establish LLCs and the Penn State Law Intellectual Property Clinic for patent and intellectual property assistance. 

The competition can be viewed on the Invent Penn State YouTube channel on April 15.  

About the Inc.U Competition 

Inc.U is a signature program of Invent Penn State and an annual showcase of student innovation across the commonwealth. Every spring, the Inc.U Competition awards up to $30,000 in funding to the top six student startup teams at the culminating pitch event that takes place during Penn State Startup Week powered by PNC. This funding, coupled with ongoing pitch training and startup support services, enables student entrepreneurs to take the next step in turning their daydream into a reality. 

This project was financed in part by a grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Community & Economic Development.