Organtick is Big Winner at Third Annual StartUp Lehigh Valley

By Colin McEvoy on October 28, 2021

Richard Thompson, managing partner at the Factory LLC (left) with the winners from the third annual Startup Lehigh Valley event. (photo courtesy WFMZ-TV)

Organtick, the startup behind a scientifically-proven, all-natural tick repellent, was the big winner of the third annual StartUp Lehigh Valley pitch competition, held at the Factory LLC in Bethlehem on Oct 27.

The company, founded by Nicole Chinnici, won both the $5,000 grand prize and the $1,000 Audience Choice award at the event, in which 10 local entrepreneurs were provided two minutes to pitch their products to a panel of judges before a live audience.

“One in three people have been affected by a tick-borne illness, not only in Pennsylvania but across the United States,” Chinnici said during her pitch. “It’s a growing public health crisis that I’m here to solve.”

Co-hosted by the Factory and the Penn State Lehigh Valley LaunchBox, StartUp Lehigh Valley is a Shark Tank-style event that showcases regional entrepreneurs and the innovation happening in our community, supporting the next generation of Lehigh Valley business leaders.

A combined total of $10,000 in prizes were distributed during the event, which took place before a limited in-person audience at the Factory and was streamed live on WFMZ-TV. Contestants delivered pitches to and answered questions from a panel of four judges.

The winners were selected by the judges, and both live and at-home audience members used smartphones to vote for the Audience Choice award, according to event co-host Liz Keptner, director of the Multimedia Innovation Center at Penn State Lehigh Valley.

“Here’s what we’re looking for: an original idea, something that differentiates your product from others,” Keptner said. “We’re also seeking market viability: is this something that solves a problem people have? And then, of course, how well they pitched the product. That’s important.”

Richard Thompson, managing partner at Factory and fellow event co-host, added: “Pitching is important because you’ve got to pitch for money all the time. As you start up, you’re going to need more money, more money, more money, and you’ve got to be a good pitcher.”

The runner-up and winner of $2,500 in prize money was Pippy Sips, the startup company behind a product called Maia, an all-in-one system for storing, cooling and monitoring breastmilk.

“I am absolutely passionate about giving women freedom in their daily lives, including breast-feeding and pumping moms who often feel weighed down and restricted by the needs of breastfeeding and pumping,” said Amberlee Venti, CEO & co-founder of Pippy Sips.

Additionally, three LaunchBox Boost awards of $500 were awarded to competitors. They were presented to FuelCred, a mobile app that automates the process of claiming the federal fuel tax refund/credit; DN Organics, a creator of hair care products for women; and ParaPer4mance, a mobile app that connects wheelchair users around the world.

All participants were connected with Lehigh Valley LaunchBox’s resources for startup businesses, including legal advice, marketing resources, mentors, grant funding opportunities, and more. Additionally, participating entrepreneurs were able to network with the attending business leaders, investors, and community members at the event.

“Thank you very much for your support, and thank you for offering this event and helping us entrepreneurs find some seed funding to help start up,” Chinnici said. “Thank you also for the networking opportunity. I made a lot of great connections here.”

The panel of judges includes Dan Bosket, an entrepreneur and owner of several small businesses; Tony Ianelli, President & CEO of the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce; Roly Nesi, founder of ROAR Organic; and Sue Yee, founder & CEO of Active Data.

Other startups that competed in Startup Lehigh Valley included:

  • Car to Camp, sleeping platforms and storage systems for people to camp out of their vans
  • Finco, a virtual environment for K-12 students to learn about investing and trading
  • Ideas Novel LLC, creator of a sandwich organizer and storage device
  • Nort Port, The Cheese Ball Company, a food manufacturing company
  • Project Move, personal organizers that help customers move, downsize, and declutter

Startup Lehigh Valley was sponsored by Penn State Lehigh Valley and JPMorgan Chase. George Lewis, Vice President of Marketing, Communications and Research for the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC), serves on the Lehigh Valley LaunchBox Advisory Board.

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