StartUp Lehigh Valley Entrepreneurial Pitch Competition is Returning

By Colin McEvoy on August 30, 2021

The Factory in Bethlehem will host the annual Startup Lehigh Valley pitch competition.

The annual StartUp Lehigh Valley pitch competition is coming back, showcasing regional entrepreneurs and the innovation happening in our community, as well as supporting the next generation of Lehigh Valley business leaders.

The third annual event will take place on Oct. 27, at Factory LLC, and will be broadcast live on WFMZ-TV. Factory is a Bethlehem-based investor and operator for food, beverage, and pet health companies. Factory is hosting the event in partnership with Penn State Lehigh Valley LaunchBox.

“At Factory, we invest in startup companies and partner with them to help them grow,” said Richard Thompson, managing partner at Factory. “But we wanted to do more to promote innovation and local startups in the Lehigh Valley, beyond the brands we work with, so we partnered with Lehigh Valley LaunchBox to create StartUp Lehigh Valley. It’s an event that brings everyone in the local business community together for a fun competition, but more importantly, to build connections.”

Ten local entrepreneurs will each have two minutes to pitch their products to a panel of judges. Afterwards, the judges will have two minutes to ask questions. This year, the competition will be broadcast live on WFMZ-TV for the first time so that everyone in the community can watch and cheer on our local entrepreneurs.

After all contestants have pitched, the judges will select a grand prize winner to take home $5,000.

The first runner up will receive $2,500, and three additional finalists will receive LaunchBox Boost awards of $500 each. The live and virtual audience will also vote for the winner of a $1,000 Audience Choice award.

Anyone who wishes to apply to compete can do so at the Factory website. The deadline to apply is Oct. 15. All startup founders and entrepreneurs in Pennsylvania are eligible to apply as long as they are 18 or older. Products and companies in any industry are welcome.

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

“From the first person to rub sticks together to start a fire to those who sparked the industrial age, innovation has lit our pathway to progress. But an idea, no matter how bright, is just an idea until an individual with talent, support – and gumption – captures, creates, packages and successfully promotes it for profit: the entrepreneur,” said Penn State Lehigh Valley Chancellor, Tina Q. Richardson.

“They are the backbone of our workforce, the root of all business and the reason we formed LaunchBox – to double down on our commitment to foster innovation in our region,” Richardson said. “We are so pleased to be part of this exciting event and look forward to helping these aspiring entrepreneurs gain exposure and traction through this partnership with Factory, and by connecting them to Penn State’s massive network of startup resources moving forward.”

More than 1,500 attendees viewed the virtual Startup Lehigh Valley event last year. Justin Gelwicks of WoodGoods Lacrosse, which makes high-quality wooden lacrosse sticks that are durable as well as flexible, won last year’s grand prize and Audience Choice Award.

Runners-up in last year’s competition included Jonathan Epstein of JTJ Tech, LLC, which provides an innovative solution to pipe freeze in sprinkler systems, and Wesley Hart of Verde Mantis, LP, which develops what he called “the world’s easiest-to-use 3D printer.”

This year’s StartUp Lehigh Valley will be held Wednesday, Oct. 27 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Factory LLC, which is located at 315 Columbia Street in Bethlehem. This event is 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.

Located in a converted former Bethlehem Steel mill, the Factory LLC is an innovation center that includes a team of experienced operators with investable capital who acquire meaningful equity stakes in client companies and partner with them to grow. The 40,000 square-foot laboratory offers services in everything from food safety, product development, supply chain, and social media marketing.

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