Success Story

  • Photos from Penn State Startup Week 2018.

Penn State Startup Week, April 1-5, Features Inspiring Entrepreneurs and Innovators

From brain training to beverages, from financial services to fashion magazines and electronics, numerous innovative thought-leaders will share their experiences with students during Penn State Startup Week, April 1-5.

Penn State Startup Week engages students, faculty, staff in nearly every academic college and at every commonwealth campus through presentations from startup founders and corporate innovators, idea development workshops and mentoring sessions, an entrepreneurial resource fair, and pitch competitions where teams can compete for project support and experiential prizes.

Startup Week events teach, motivate and inspire attendees to make innovation a part of their careers, whether it’s by starting their own companies or bringing an entrepreneurial mindset to an established organization. Through close collaboration with existing University programs, community partners, and Invent Penn State, events also expose guests to the larger innovation ecosystem that exists throughout Penn State and in the surrounding communities.

“Startup Week brings together Penn State’s best and brightest—undergraduates, graduates, alumni entrepreneurs and corporate innovators, highly engaged faculty and staff” says James Delattre, Associate Vice President for Research and Director of the Office of Entrepreneurship and Commercialization. “Our broad-based committee has demonstrated the belief that everyone owns innovation at Penn State. We are fortunate to sit at the nexus of so many change makers. Each Startup Week tops the last, and this year will not disappoint.”

Plenary Sessions

A highlight of the week is a series of highly engaging panel discussions featuring entrepreneurs and innovators who are making an impact in unique ways at different stages in their careers.

4/1 “Someday is Today: Getting Started in Entrepreneurship” presented by IBM
Innovators who are at the beginning of their entrepreneurial journey will share tips and lessons learned.

  • Matt Roda, Penn State Class of 2020, Chief Marketing Officer, Reflexion Interactive Technologies
  • Melissa Schipke ’09, CEO & Co-Founder, Tassl
  • Aniyia Williams, ’07 , Founder of TINSEL and Co-Founder of Black and Brown Founders

4/2 “The Entrepreneur’s Journey: Learning from Successes and Setbacks” presented by M&T Bank Technology
Individuals who have sustained success in innovation will share wisdom, advice and pitfalls to avoid.

  • Hillary Murray ’08, Founder & CEO, Lumi Organics
  • Nova Lorraine, Founder & Editor-in-Chief, Raine Magazine
  • Rich Thompson, Managing Partner, Factory LLC

4/3 “Innovation Happens Everywhere: Intrapreneurship in Established Organizations” presented by EY
Intrapreneurs and corporate innovators will share how to innovate within established organizations.

  • Francine Grant ’87, Head of Global Innovation Activations, VISA
  • Elizabeth King ’79, Former VP, Global Human Resources Solutions and Services, Starbucks
  • Bryan Pearce, Global Entrepreneurship & Start-ups Leader, EY

“We are honored to host so many of Penn State’s inspired doers, both the panelists and the sponsors,” says Delattre. “These busy founders and corporate partners are so generous with their time, and students benefit immeasurably from the time they spend with them.” As the event nears more sponsors have joined, including Corning, Leidos, and Ford Motor Company.

Pitch Competitions & 3-Day Sustainability Mini Challenge

The week also will feature several competitions that challenge students to find innovative solutions to common problems or present new startup ideas to panels of expert judges, including a 3-Day Mini-Challenge that will task participants with prototyping and presenting a solution for a common campus sustainability issue. Many of the competitions include awards such as seed funding, access to resources, and experiential prizes, including trips to entrepreneurial conferences.

4/4 Startup Week Celebration & Awards at Pegula Ice Arena presented by Lockheed Martin

On Thursday evening, April 4, the top teams from each competition will gather at Pegula Ice Arena at University Park for an invitation-only reception with Startup Week speakers, Penn State President Eric Barron and other University administrators. During the event, which is presented by Lockheed Martin, student teams will have the opportunity to showcase their work and gain additional feedback.

About Penn State Startup Week

Penn State Startup week was founded in 2012 as IST Startup Week to expose its students to unique career paths in the tech industry. IST’s original event was launched to celebrate a $400,000 gift to support student entrepreneurs from David Rusenko ’07, who founded the website creation platform Weebly with two classmates while a Penn State student. The gift — the largest from an IST graduate in the college’s history — created two scholarships that help IST students launch their own companies while they are still in school. Since that time the event has grown to include more colleges and campuses until, finally, it is University-wide. In 2019 Penn State Startup Week is transitioning its leadership from IST to the Invent Penn State initiative.

For detailed information on Penn State Startup Week, including the full week’s schedule, visit A complete listing of the week’s events can be found on the Startup Week website. Most events are open to the public and many events will be livestreamed online. Participants can engage with speakers and ask questions by following @PSUStartupWeek on Twitter and using #PennStateStartup or #BeGreater on social media.