Success Story

From Lego Building Allegory to Punk Rocker Pivots, Global Entrepreneurship Week Provides Actionable Advice and Inspires Entrepreneurs

In its 12th year, Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) Penn State featured 58 total virtual events for startups and small businesses.

“This is the first time GEW Penn State was hosted in a completely virtual capacity, and the format allowed for a greater number of event partnerships and made events accessible to a wider audience,” said Tim Keohane, director of the Penn State Small Business Development Center (SBDC), who sponsored GEW. “The week featured inspirational stories and actionable advice to help entrepreneurs succeed.”

Events like “Opening the Door to Entrepreneurship” took advantage of the virtual format in multiple ways. For example, community innovators provided virtual, interactive tours of three State College innovation spaces – Discovery Space, 3 Dots Downtown, and New Leaf Initiative. Viewers could vote for which part of each space they wanted to see next, making the tours a ‘choose-your-own-adventure’ experience.

Another unique event, “Brands and Fans – LEGO: Building Fan Engagement,” hosted by Abington LaunchBox, featured multi-award-winning LEGO builders and recent competitors on the Fox show LEGO Masters, Flynn DeMarco and Richard Board. During the YouTube livestream event, DeMarco and Board demonstrated through LEGO building how entrepreneurship and innovative thinking can come from anywhere.

“Whether it’s engineering or building with LEGO, you don’t necessarily have the perfect answer at the start, and you may not know how to get to the end,” Board said. “But if you know the next few steps, you can just keep iterating and iterating and changing it. But it means you have to be flexible about your design – there may be more than one way to reach those goals.”

Martin Atkins, a Grammy award-winning punk rocker, business owner and entrepreneurship educator, gave an edgy talk entitled “Art and Entrepreneurship in a Time of Crisis.” Atkins told the story of how the printing of a simple coffee bag culminated into a live stream concert in conjunction with over 50 venues. He also shared his reaction to the onset of the crisis, the lockdown, and his efforts along with his team to make a positive difference in the lives of others through artwork and creativity.

GEW’s success relies greatly on partnerships with organizations such as the Penn State Alumni Association, which hosted “Advancing Inclusive Entrepreneurial Economies through Global-to-Local Networks” and “Blue-White Culinary Startups.”

“The Penn State Alumni Association has a strong history of supporting entrepreneurship at Penn State,” says Paul Clifford, CEO of the Penn State Alumni Association. “Featuring these examples of entrepreneurial success gave us a springboard to share with our alumni how Penn State continues to impact the Commonwealth, the nation and the world. It’s a story we’ll continue to share.”

Featured LaunchBox and Innovation Hub Network Events:

Lehigh Valley LaunchBox hosted the second annual StartUp Lehigh Valley Pitch Competition. Justin Gelwicks, founder of WoodGoods Lacrosse, was the grand champion, winning both the audience’s vote for a $1,000 prize and first place from the panel of judges for a $3,500 cash prize. WoodGoods produces and sells flexible yet strong wooden lacrosse shafts.

Penn State Berks, Berks LaunchBox and Hazleton LaunchBox hosted “Exito de una Startup: Lecciones de los Fundadores Latinx,” a panel event presented entirely in Spanish. Hazleton LaunchBox offers a myriad of bilingual startup resources to the community.

Penn State DuBois and the North Central PA LaunchBox powered by Penn State DuBois hosted Ben Franklin Technology Partner’s $50,000 BIG IDEA pitch contest. Sarah Boyer’s startup Antria won the pitch contest for their idea to develop stem cell therapies to provide patients with personalized care to help with wound care.

Penn State York and York LaunchBox hosted Paige Wingert, CEO of L2 Brands, who spoke about his entrepreneurial journey designing and selling vintage-inspired collegiate baseball hats.

Watch these events NOW:

Get Started Building Your Business with Lean Startup

Learn about the business model canvas and other strategic tools and programs to support the development of your business.

Where to Find Financing to Start or Grow Your Business

Representatives from the SBDC and SCORE Mentors highlight available funding resources.

The Financial Ecosystem and Black Businesses and Entrepreneurs

Dr. Jerome Williams and his colleagues spent 10 years mystery shopping banks to investigate lending practices and customer experience. Williams shares their results and advice for minorities who are treated poorly compared to White counterparts.

Small Business Resilience: Thriving Through Change

A panel of diverse small businesses throughout central PA discuss how they have successfully pivoted during the pandemic.

About the Penn State SBDC

GEW Penn State was sponsored by the Penn State Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in partnership with Invent Penn State. The Penn State SBDC provides entrepreneurs with the education, information, and tools necessary to build successful businesses. Free, confidential consulting services are provided to people looking to start or grow a small business. To learn more, visit

About Invent Penn State

Invent Penn State is a commonwealth-wide initiative to spur economic development, job creation and student career success. Invent Penn State blends entrepreneurship-focused academic programs, business startup training and incubation, funding for commercialization, and university-community-industry collaborations to facilitate the challenging process of turning research discoveries into valuable products and services that can benefit Pennsylvanians and humankind. Learn more at