The Mont Alto LaunchBox has used its first year in operation to provide Penn State Mont Alto and the surrounding communities with workshops, events, pitch competitions and access to a range of free entrepreneurial support services. They’ve assisted students, researchers and community members with projects from ghost writing to rockets and want to provide more assistance in their second year.
Located in the Chambersburg industrial district at 40 N. 2nd Street, the Mont Alto LaunchBox is a no-cost startup accelerator and coworking space designed to provide early-stage startup companies with the support and resources needed to build a sustainable business – resources like hot desk coworking space, 3D printing, access to design software, Wi-Fi, legal and intellectual property services, and business accelerator courses.
“The Mont Alto LaunchBox offers free services to entrepreneurs in our campus community to help them start and grow businesses like Penn State startups Moichor and The LiveFirst Company [guest speakers at the Fall Forum ] that we hope will drive economic development,” said Penn State Mont Alto Chancellor Francis Achampong.
In March 2018, before officially opening its doors, Mont Alto LaunchBox already had hosted the Lion Tank pitch competition, a “Shark Tank” style event that drew a variety of applicants from a wide range of industries and backgrounds in the community.
Kirsten Hubbard, a Waynesboro resident, won first place and $1,500 for her business Ghost Writer, which offers grant-writing, development and marketing services to small and medium sized non-profits.
“What I love about this event is that we’re being purposeful about inviting [sic] entrepreneurs, because by definition we don’t fit in the box,” Hubbard told the Record Herald after her win. “Sometimes we feel isolated and alone, and that our ideas aren’t necessarily welcomed. It’s nice to be purposeful about inviting entrepreneurs to share and creating a culture that welcomes them.”
Kyle Snowberger, who earned his Bachelors in Aerospace Engineering and German from Penn State in 2016, won second place and $1,000. His company, Intercept Nexus, LLC, is working on a rocket that will reduce the cost of delivering large volume payloads to the Earth’s orbit. Snowberger appreciated the feedback provided by the panel of judges.
“They were all like bank leaders in the area, and senior vice presidents, so for me as an engineer, it really helped me get my head out of the weeds and see what I need to focus on as an entrepreneur,” Snowberger said to WDVM.
As evidenced by the first two winners of the Lion Tank competition, the Mont Alto LaunchBox has been able to reach a wide variety of entrepreneurs in the community. In addition to competitions, the LaunchBox has offered workshops featuring expert presentations and panels.
“A bank executive, John Kilduff, set up an Internet business after attending our workshop on putting together a business plan,” said Penn State Mont Alto campus Chancellor Francis Achampong. “Another entrepreneur, Eugene Sarvis, has attended all our workshops and established a business making trophy display cases.”
Going into 2019, the Mont Alto LaunchBox will look to build on their first year successes. The second Lion Tank pitch competition is already slated for March 15 and they’ve announced three upcoming workshops on topics like franchising and new business ideas. For more information about the Mont Alto LaunchBox montalto.psu.edu/launchbox or contact Debra Collins at firstname.lastname@example.org or 717-749-6112.