Brandywine hosts Spring 2024 Idea TestLab Pitch Competition

group of people holding large checks

The judges, coaches, contestants and program directors took a photo together with large checks after the Idea TestLab Pitch Competition.

Credit: Penn State

MEDIA, Pa. — The Penn State Brandywine LaunchBox held its Spring 2024 Idea TestLab Pitch Competition on March 19. Four startup entrepreneurs participated in the competition, which was held on campus in the Tomezsko Classroom Building.

The Idea TestLab is a six-week business accelerator program for early-stage entrepreneurs who want to explore their scalable idea or address a customer problem for a potential business. The Idea TestLab is a “customer discovery” investigation designed to help entrepreneurs better understand the customer problem they are trying to solve and how to provide value in a different way.

Participants must be in an early stage, which means they have already conceived an idea and are ready to seek proof of concept and engagement in a customer discovery process.

In addition to the competition, the LaunchBox also held three panel discussions featuring coaches, judges and previous contestants, who all provided advice to the spring 2024 competitors and event attendees.

The winner of the Spring 2024 Idea TestLab Pitch Competition, Maura Redmond, leads her company Main Line Makers, an after-school program aimed to teach students life skills by providing cooking and crafting classes. Second-place went to Zubair and Zishaan Raymond-Latib for their company We Learn Music Together, an app that helps preschool-aged children grow by providing music education to increase social cognitive and emotional maturity. Third place was awarded to Maria Hendrickson-Lyn for her startup Married 2 Makeup LLC, a company aimed at teaching people how to apply makeup to elevate their skills and confidence. Fourth place was awarded to Elizabeth Keller for her startup GuildHome, a company meant to match people who play the same video games at the times they are available.

Tony Mattei, director of entrepreneurship and digital marketing at Penn State Brandywine, noted how impressed he was with the contestants.

“I was extremely impressed by this spring’s Idea TestLab cohort. The teams brought their A-game to the pitch competition and thoroughly impressed the judges with their presentations. I’m always amazed at the progress the teams make week-to-week over the six-week program,” he said.

“We also gained great insights on topics including navigating the pitch, evaluating the presentation, and going from pitch to prosperity during our three panel discussions before the teams took the stage.”

Judges for the pitch competition were Chris Bradley, part owner of i-core networks and Brandywine Advisory Board member; Kalpani Dissanayake, assistant professor of business and economics at Penn State Brandywine; and Mark Trabbold, Brandywine LaunchBox Advisory Board member.

Brandywine LaunchBox is a signature program of Invent Penn State, a commonwealth-wide initiative to spur economic development, job creation and student career success. As one of the University’s 21 innovation hubs across the commonwealth, Brandywine LaunchBox provides programs and resources for early-stage entrepreneurs. The LaunchBox is located in Lansdowne at the Utility Works MakerSpace, which is operated by the Lansdowne Economic Development Corporation.

The next Idea TestLab program will begin in October 2024.