Success Story

  • Crowd attending GEW Penn State event

Global Entrepreneurship Week Penn State inspires entrepreneurs, community

Connecting community members and entrepreneurs with Penn State’s vibrant ecosystem of investors, researchers and startup champions, Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) Penn State hosted 66 events across Penn State campus communities in November, with more than 60 occurring Nov. 14-18.

Hosted by the Penn State Small Business Development Center (SBDC), GEW Penn State held a diverse lineup of speakers and events, including events hosted in Spanish.

“Across Pennsylvania, attendees received actionable advice to help grow professionally and improve their startups or businesses,” said Tim Keohane, director of Penn State SBDC. “There is a breadth of entrepreneurial resources available at Penn State for business owners, founders and aspiring entrepreneurs, and many of these resources were on display during GEW Penn State.”

GEW Penn State featured keynote speaker Jason Feifer, the editor in chief of Entrepreneur magazine, who detailed how to navigate times of disruption and turn those times into opportunities.

“Oftentimes, I think people get discouraged because they think they’re supposed to be good at something at the start,” Feifer said during the keynote event. “The thing that separates people is not, ‘Are you good at the thing you do at the beginning?’ That’s not what separates people. The thing that separates people is, who is willing to tolerate being bad long enough to get to good. That’s what separates people because most people are not willing to tolerate it.”

The week culminated with a community networking event, which brought together small business owners, local vendors and entrepreneurs at the Eric J. Barron Innovation Hub for an evening of networking and celebration. Attendees toured the Innovation Hub, an 85,000-square-foot building and home to Happy Valley LaunchBox powered by PNC Bank and OriginLabs, a rapid prototyping and fabrication lab. GEW Penn State partnered with the Chamber of Business & Industry of Centre County (CBICC), Centre Region Entrepreneur Network (CREN) and WiNGs (Women’s Network Group) during this event.

Along with workshops, speakers and networking events, GEW Penn State held competitions including Happy Valley LaunchBox’s first-ever FastTrack Accelerator pitch competition. Below are the winning teams:

  • First Place ($3,000) – Basketball Today, which provides a new take on traditional sports media through social media channels that post NBA news, highlights, and content that Gen-Z can trust and consume as its go-to for basketball news and entertainment. The startup is founded by Justin Leusner, a second-year student studying corporate innovation and entrepreneurship.
  • Runner-up ($1,000) – Eartrainer, which allows music teachers to create listening assignments and have them automatically graded. Teachers can use their own recordings, generate new ones, or choose from a community database. The startup is founded by James Dennis, a Doctor of Musical Arts candidate in piano performance.
  • Runner-up ($1,000) – VertaWorks, which is innovating how homeowners and businesses express themselves by designing automated flag display systems that allow people to show support for their country, favorite sports team, social movement, or anything else effortlessly and respectfully. The startup is founded by Kyle-David Byrne, a fourth-year student studying economics.

“We’re so proud of all our FastTrack Accelerator startup teams,” said Elizabeth Hay, Jack White Family Director of Happy Valley LaunchBox. “Over the course of our 10-week program, founders were able to test critical assumptions to reduce risk, prototype solutions and get real customer feedback. Our next round of applications for FastTrack Accelerator are scheduled to open on Dec. 14.”

In addition to events held at University Park, GEW Penn State was celebrated across Penn State campuses and the Invent Penn State LaunchBox & Innovation Network. This included:

  • Abington LaunchBox “Tech-umentary” Series Premiere – Presented by Abington LaunchBox, this event explored innovation through the brilliance and blunders of everyday technology.
  • High-Quality Sales Funnels – Presented by Berks LaunchBox, this event showed how to set up a sales funnel to create a healthy and profitable business.
  • Top 5 in Twenty-Five: What is an MVP? – Presented by Altoona LaunchBox, this event detailed what a minimum viable product (MVP) is, how to build one, the benefits of having one and the most common MVP mistakes.

Core GEW Penn State events can be watched on its YouTube channel:

About Invent Penn State

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.

GEW Penn State partners with Invent Penn State to help further its mission of economic development, student career success, and job creation.

About the Penn State SBDC

Funding support and resources are provided through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration; by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania through the Department of Community & Economic Development; and in part through support from Penn State and with assistance from Lock Haven University. All services are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. SBDC services are not available to individuals or entities that have been debarred or suspended by the federal government.

SBDCs are hosted by leading universities, colleges, state economic development agencies and private partners, and funded in part by the United States Congress through a partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration. There are nearly 1,000 local centers available to provide no-cost business consulting and low-cost training to new and existing businesses. The Penn State SBDC services Centre, Clinton, Lycoming, and Mifflin counties in central Pennsylvania.