Summer Founders provides Penn State student founders with $15,000


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Invent Penn State Summer Founders program completed its 13-week student startup accelerator with a virtual Startup Showcase on Aug. 11, featuring student founders from across five Penn State colleges and the Graduate School at Penn State.

Summer Founders provides selected teams a $15,000 grant allowing them to work full time on their startup, social good or nonprofit idea over the summer. This year, the program had an all-virtual format, featuring one-on-one coaching sessions and virtual networking events with entrepreneurs and industry experts each week, which included former Summer Founders participants Hunter Swisher, CEO of Phospholutions, and Shevy Karbasiafshar, CEO of Moichor.

Teams will also have access to Happy Valley LaunchBox powered by PNC Bank for one year, in addition to its network of 60-plus advisers, a variety of free tools and services including free server credits, a one-year subscription to SolidWorks and POWr plugins, and access to an additional $3,000 for customer discovery.

“It’s always amazing to see the progress that these startups make over the summer,” Chief Amplifier Lee Erickson said. “They have honed their marketing messages, run market tests, built and tested prototypes, and some have started to earn revenue. We’re excited to see what they do next.”

Grants were awarded to the following teams:

  • AURA – a social media platform based on music sharing, primarily and initially targeted toward college students. The startup is led by Harsh Tyagi (College of Engineering), Jackson Oates (College of Information Sciences and Technology), and Bethany Fetsko (Eberly College of Science).
  • Project Cyclone – an automated recommendation platform helping maintenance technicians prolong the lives of their machines, reducing downtime and maintenance costs through artificial intelligence-based predictive insights. The startup is led by Sean Vaez (College of the Liberal Arts and ENTI minor), Kshitij Dawar (doctoral candidate in the College of Engineering), Peter Sauer (Northwestern University), and Mike Allan (the Graduate School at Penn State).
  • QuestUni – provides students with networking, research and career development opportunities tailored to their college to improve collaboration and increase innovation at universities. The startup is led by students Jason Fink, Manuel Andres Roshardt, and Joseph Brighter (College of Engineering).
  • SLCKR – produces fashionable and functional wearables for barbers designed to solve current industry problems. The startup is led by Tyler Tracy (College of Engineering and ENTI Minor) and Ben Johnson (Smeal College of Business).
  • Sports Data Now (SDN) – a sports data and analytics platform that aims to improve upon the current landscape of free-to-the-public sports data websites through its user-friendly interface, fully customizable data presentation, integrated fantasy and sports betting information, and community statistics add-ons. The startup is led by Andrew Briglia (College of Engineering and ENTI Minor), and 2016 Penn State graduates Ryan Briglia and Taylor Mazeski.

Summer Founders is a signature program of the Invent Penn State initiative and is provided in partnership with Happy Valley LaunchBox. Startup funding is made possible through the donations of successful alumni entrepreneurs interested in supporting new student ventures. If you’re interested in giving to the Summer Founders program, please contact the Penn State Development Director of Strategic Initiatives, Heather Winfield at For more information about the program, visit

To view more Penn State-affiliated startups, visit To find more student entrepreneur resources, visit


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