Student startups shine at Invent Penn State conference

The Student Startup Showcase participants at the 2019 Invent Penn State Venture & IP Conference

The Student Startup Showcase participants at the 2019 Invent Penn State Venture & IP Conference

Credit: Penn State

Shortly after the recent 2019 Invent Penn State Venture & IP Conference kicked off, Penn State President Eric Barron welcomed eight Penn State student researchers and entrepreneurs to center stage for them to participate in the Student Startup Showcase – a forum for the University’s best and brightest student entrepreneurs to share with venture capitalists and other entrepreneurs how their discoveries are having a positive impact on the world.

The student companies were selected for the Startup Showcase based on their participation in the Pennsylvania Technical Assistance Program’s (PennTAP) Inc.U Competition and Invent Penn State’s Summer Founders Program. Each of the companies received $2,000 to help move their initiatives forward during the Oct. 3-4 conference, held at the Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center.

Student Pitch companies included:

  • Ben Cutler, a senior studying industrial engineering in the College of Engineering, co-founded CastPak – a turnkey, portable solution for streaming live, high-definition video over cellular networks. The company’s patented technology will help videographers explore new markets relative to how video is distributed to those who cannot attend a live event. His business partner, Andrew Przyjamski is a May 2019 graduate, also from the College of Engineering.
  • The presentation for Argolytics, LLC, was led by Tamela Serenstis, who earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural sciences, and is now pursuing a master’s degree in applied statistics through the World Campus. Argolytics is a web-based software that helps manufacturers assess the quality of their products. The company’s first product, Trendable, which launched in fall 2019, is an affordable, accurate quality control reporting software to alert Quality Managers to out-of-spec components.
  • Clot Not’s Robert Uzzo, a student in the Eberly College of Science, told conference attendees there are more than 10 million blood clots annually worldwide. Clot Not’s therapeutic, patent-pending device provides manual compression therapy to stimulate blood flow for patients recovering at home.
  • May 2019 graduate Austin Wittmer, who holds a degree in microbiology from the Eberly College of Science, founded DermatoloMe – an innovative, at-home testing company that aims to identify the optimal antibiotic treatment for patients who suffer from persistent, severe acne.
  • Maverick Software Systems, founded by Penn State College of Health and Human Development undergraduate student Devanshi Agnihotri and Penn State Information Sciences and Technology undergraduate student Joel Seidel, is helping hospitals use data to improve the quality of care by assigning quantitative values to the effectiveness of medical treatments and devices, thereby reducing patient readmissions, which currently account for a loss of more than $525 million in hospital reimbursement fees.
  • Andrew Brandt, a May 2019 graduate in Business Administration and Management from the University of Scranton, is co-founder of WithU/One-Click, LLC – a personal, campus safety application that provides a direct technological connection to campus emergency personnel from a mobile phone, which helps reduce response time. His business partner is Matt Pettinato, a May 2019 graduate from the Smeal College of Business.
  • Penn State Shenango occupational therapy assistant alumnae Ali Izzo and Holly Masters wanted to address the depression and loneliness common in nursing home and hospital patients. Their entrepreneurial thinking led to the development of the Purpose Therapy Box – a quarterly and special-occasion gift box people can send to loved ones and friends to stay connected. The scalable solution has already been recognized by Pennsylvania Technical Assistance Program and awarded $15,000 during Invent Penn State’s 2019 Startup Week.
  • With more than 45 million student borrowers across America owing upwards of $1.6 trillion, Penn State undergraduate student entrepreneurs Michael Miller, from the Smeal College of Business, and Jack Quinn in the College of Engineering, developed LoanCrunch – a user-friendly and rewards-driven technology platform set to debut in spring 2020 that simplifies the student loan process by building a custom, goal-oriented plan to pay off debt.

“It’s extremely satisfying to see how student entrepreneurs from across the Penn State network are pursuing their ideas and dreams,” said James Delattre, associate vice president for research and director of the Office of Entrepreneurship and Commercialization at Penn State. “It’s critically important we help foster disruptive innovations like the kinds represented at the Student Startup Showcase that improve lives around the globe.”

The 2019 Venture & IP Conference welcomed more than 550 attendees and featured 85 startup companies, 90 investors and advisers and 30 sponsors, which all collaborated over the two-day event to propel entrepreneurship and innovation. A signature program of Invent Penn State the conference represents Penn State’s commitment to fulfilling its mission of research, education, and service while having a positive impact on humanity. The event is spearheaded by Penn State’s Office of Entrepreneurship & Commercialization, Office of Technology Management, Corporate Engagement Center, and Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central & Northern PA.

The conference also featured the Tech Tournament – a competition among Penn State’s early-stage faculty innovators. This year, 12 disruptive technologies and companies birthed out of Penn State’s research and tech transfer enterprise participated and pitched their ideas to a panel of judges. Nanoporous Antireflection Coatings was awarded top honors for the Tech Tournament and walked away with the $75,000 first place prize.

Invent Penn State offers comprehensive resources to assist entrepreneurs and provides investors visibility into Penn State’s intellectual property and startup activity through online tools such as: Startup Navigator, a showcase of Penn State legacy companies and ecosystem startups; IP Navigator, a full list of Penn State's top emerging technologies available for licensing, and Resource Navigator, a searchable inventory of entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem resources around Invent Penn State’s 21 innovation hubs across Pennsylvania. Learn more at