Success Story

Startup Week powered by PNC to take place March 18 – 22

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — From March 18 – 22, Penn State Startup Week powered by PNC invites students from across the Commonwealth to explore Penn State’s vast entrepreneurial ecosystem, learn from successful Penn State alumni, and connect with innovative peers through free, fun, hands-on activities. Students are encouraged to attend speaker sessions, workshops, and pitch competitions, either in person or virtually. View the full schedule and register for events on the Startup Week website. 

In its eighth year, Startup Week will feature themed days throughout the week:  

  • Monday, March 18 —Penn State Student Entrepreneurs  
  • Tuesday, March 19 — Funding Your Venture  
  • Wednesday, March 20 — Social Impact  
  • Thursday, March 21 — Technology

“Our Startup Week Student Executive Committee has been instrumental in helping to direct and plan what is shaping up to be another exciting year of Startup Week events,” said Matthew McKinney, entrepreneurship program manager for the Office of Entrepreneurship and Commercialization. “From hearing successful student entrepreneurs on Monday through the student marketplace on Friday, the week is full of opportunities for students to attend talks, panel discussions, and engage in hands-on activities.” 

To celebrate the hard work and accomplishments of student entrepreneurs already building businesses, many entrepreneurial programs will have their culminating pitch competition during Startup Week. Students can register to attend the Inc.U Competition ( in-person), Happy Valley Venture Capital Pitch Competition (virtually or in-person),  the Bardusch Family IdeaMakers Challenge Pitch Competition (virtually or in-person)  and the Mont Alto Lion Tank Competition (in-person) to see the innovative startups their peers have been developing. 

“PNC is a leader in the financial services industry, and our success hinges on a vibrant and innovative local marketplace,” said Jim Hoehn, PNC regional president in Central Pennsylvania. “We are proud to once again collaborate with Penn State to make Startup Week possible and help foster an entrepreneurial spirit in the next generation of leaders.” 

Below are just a few of the featured events throughout the week, all of which will be held at the Eric J. Barron Innovation Hub with most having a virtual option. Attendees are encouraged to register for events ahead of time via the Startup Week schedule.

Monday, March 18 – Student Entrepreneurs 

Join us on Monday afternoon to hear from Penn State student founders that have realized startup success alongside their academic journey at Penn State.  

Tuesday, March 19 – Funding Your Venture  

Join us on Tuesday afternoon to hear comprehensive insights and practical strategies to secure financial support for innovative pursuits.  

  • Haley Marie McClain Hill, founder, and CEO of TORCH Warriorwear and 2023 Shark Tank participant who secured a $150,000 deal with Lori Greiner will speak about her startup story. The event is from noon – 1 p.m. Register to attend in-person or virtually.  
  • Nathan Nalevanko, senior outreach lead for Kickstarter, will share tips and tricks for implementing a successful Kickstarter campaign. The event is from 1:30 – 2:30 p.m. Register to attend in-person or virtually. 
  • The Penn State Small Business Development Center (SBDC) will present their First Steps to Small Business Success from 3 – 4 p.m. If you’re interested in entrepreneurship or are thinking about starting a business, attend this event to get an overview of what it takes to start and run a business. Register to attend in-person or virtually. 
  • All speakers from the afternoon will convene together in a panel discussion from 4:30 – 5:30 p.m. to share their entrepreneurial and funding journeys. Register to attend in-person or virtually.

Wednesday, March 20 – Social Impact 

Join us on Wednesday to explore innovative solutions that address pressing societal challenges while fostering positive change in communities.  

  • Learn more about The Jared Box Project with Executive Director Cindy Kolarik and take part in making 50 Jared Boxes to deliver to Mount Nittany Medical Center. The event will be held from 10 – 11 a.m. Register to attend in-person 
  • Hear from Dan Azzara, former senior vice president of Global Research and Development of the Hershey Company. Following his talk, Azzara will offer exclusive guided chocolate tasting experiences for select attendees. The speaker session will be held from 11:15 a.m. – noon. Register to attend in-person or virtually 
  • Unleash your creativity and personalize your own koozie while networking with fellow students and entrepreneurs at the afternoon hands-on making event from 12:15 – 2:15 p.m. Register to attend in-person. 
  • Take a front-row seat at the Dare to Disrupt podcast live episode taping featuring Justin Rosenberg, CEO and founder of honeygrow, a fast-casual stir fry and salad restaurant chain with over 40 locations across the northeastern US. The event will take place from 2:30 – 3:30 p.m. Register to attend in-person or virtually. 

Thursday, March 21 – Technology 

On Thursday, participants will learn about emerging tech trends, gain insights into digital transformation strategies, and participate in discussions about the impact of technology on various industries.  

  • Deep Chakraborty, CEO, and co-founder of Enact Systems Inc. will discuss his company’s mission to provide an intelligent digital platform that enables development and management of solar and energy storage projects. The event will take place from noon – 1 p.m. Register to attend in-person or virtually 
  • Rajesh Rangarajan, VR project manager at Meta, will discuss his work related to building the Metaverse in Virtual Reality (VR), collaborative video conference platforms, and app ecosystems across public cloud, government community cloud and the US Department of Defense (DoD) cloud. The event will take place from 3 – 4 p.m. Register to attend in-person or virtually. 
  • Justin Fanelli, acting department of Navy CTO, will share more about his experience managing technology in the defense and healthcare sectors. The event will take place from 4:30 – 5:30 p.m. Register to attend in-person or virtually 

Round out your week with a visit to the Blue Brick Theatre in downtown State College from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday, March 22, to check out products and services offered by Penn State student entrepreneurs at the Student Entrepreneurs Marketplace 

Don’t forget, grab some Creamery Entrepreneur-chip Monkey Business ice cream at select Startup Week events throughout the week.  

About Penn State Startup Week powered by PNC 

An integral part of the broader Invent Penn State initiative, Startup Week powered by PNC is a university-wide event that connects students with innovative alumni and pioneers who are achieving success in a variety of industries and disciplines. Throughout the week, students discover, explore, experience, and celebrate entrepreneurship. 

For more information on Startup Week, including a full schedule of events, visit Participants can engage with and follow Startup Week on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.