KU Student Entrepreneurs to Compete in State System Startup Challenge Finals Wednesday, April 13

State System Startup Challenge 2021-2022. April 13, 2022. Live! 7:00 pm. PCNtv.com.

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Three student entrepreneurial teams will compete in the annual State System Startup Challenge, including Kutztown University graduate students Shantal Ewell and Kevin Smith. Students will pitch their original business plans to a panel of judges for a chance to win funds to support their start-up or expand their business. The Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN) will air the competition live at 7 p.m., Wednesday, April 13, as well as PCN Select​.

"Educating and supporting student entrepreneurs is a priority for State System universities, and these amazing finalists demonstrate the innovation coming from our students and supported by our faculty,” said Board of Governors Chairwoman Cynthia D. Shapira. "Several past winners have launched their own businesses from the ideas born of this real-life experience, and I look forward to the new businesses that may emerge from this year’s competition."

The top prize is $10,000, and second- and third-place finishers will receive prizes of $5,000 and $2,500, respectively. The finalists were selected from nearly 60 students and student teams from across the state-owned universities.

“Thank you to the students and universities that competed in this year's State System Startup Challenge,” said Chancellor Dan Greenstein. “Our State System universities are preparing thousands of students for success as entrepreneurs here in Pennsylvania, and the remarkable ingenuity and energy of these finalists speaks volumes about the spirit of innovation that is thriving at our universities.”

The three State System Startup Challenge Finalists include:​

  • Luke Melcher, George D’Angelo, Joseph Donatucci, and Connor Egan, Mechatronics Engineering Technology seniors at California University of Pennsylvania: The Vispec Safety System would revolutionize the personal electric vehicle market with added safety features for riders of electric skateboards, scooters, bicycles, and other single-rider forms of transportation. The system monitors for hazardous road conditions, including blind spots and potential collisions, to warn the rider of dangers.
  • Shantal Ewell, MBA student, and Kevin Smyth, Master’s in Student Affairs student, at Kutztown University: The Schedula Degree Planner is an online platform that would redefine the way college students and advisors interact. The platform creates a personalized degree plan so students can avoid unnecessary courses to graduate in four years or less while improving the efficiency of advisors and the graduation rates of universities.
  • Erin Burney, Business Management senior at Shippensburg University: IRE Productions is a prop making company that primarily services cosplayers with high-quality and affordable pieces. Customers can select from exclusive designs of weapons, armor and other accessories to complete a cosplay ensemble or enjoy the experience of providing their own design and the company will bring the item to life.

​The judges will be Laura B. Haffne, Region Bank President, Senior Vice President, Greater Pennsylvania Region for Wells Fargo; Matt Lutcavage, Vice President of Team Experience and Chief Human Resources Officer for The Giant Company; Manny Mar, Vice President for Bank of America; Mary Oliveira, Chief Membership Officer for Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry and Nandish Patel, an entrepreneur.

Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education oversees 14 four-year public universities educating nearly 90,000 students. The State System offers more than 2,300 degrees and certificates in more than 530 academic areas. The State System universities are Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester universities of Pennsylvania.