Student founders receive awards to work on startups over the summer

Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Summer Founders Program awarded $10,000 each to five student teams who will work in State College full time over the summer on their startup, nonprofit or social good venture. Of the 39 teams that applied to the program, 12 finalist teams were interviewed by the selection committee, and five winning teams made it into the Summer Founders Program 2018 cohort.

The 2018 cohort includes:

— HemoGo, student founder Sherveen Karbasiafshar, creating a mobile blood testing application and proprietary test strip that reduces the need for individuals to travel to a lab for routine blood tests.

— SmartLEGS, student founders Ben Cutler, Jack Mentch, Shane Hennessey and Hari Lakshmidevi, working with Jeremy Frank at KCF Technologies, developing wearable sensors that provide analysis and feedback to physical therapists on an individuals’ kinematic movements.

— ClickTutoring, student founders Derek Barnett, Erik Remington Lee, creating an affordable alternative to standard tutoring services by connecting experienced students with students looking for help in specific subjects.

— The LiveFirst Company, student founder Jobe Matula, creating a pet-proof trash can that reduces the occurrences of pet poisonings and prevents pets from tipping over the can.

— EPN Global, student founder Elizabeth Traband, building a comprehensive management system for owners of commercial horse farms.

A signature program of the Invent Penn State initiative, the Summer Founders Program relies on alumni donors to fund the program and utilizes Penn State’s alumni entrepreneur network to help coach student entrepreneurs to success. A number of Penn State alumni served on the selection committee, including James Tierney, co-founder of the Pets I’ve Met app; Matt Brezina, founder of Sincerely; and Eli Kariv, co-founder of The Coding Space. Brezina and Kariv helped to create the program in 2015 and have both funded students in the program.

“Some of our most successful student startups have come from this program,” said Lee Erickson, chief amplifier for Happy Valley LaunchBox Powered by PNC Bank, “including Analytical Flavor Systems, founded by Jason Cohen; and Project Vive, founded by Mary Elizabeth McCulloch. The opportunity to focus on their venture full time is an invaluable experience that gives these teams a competitive advantage over peer startups.”

The cohort will meet regularly with mentors and have 24/7 access to the Happy Valley LaunchBox co-working space for the program’s 13-week duration. The program will culminate with a Demo Day at Happy Valley LaunchBox on Aug. 8.

To see other Penn State startups, go to

For more information about the Summer Founders Program, contact James Delattre at

Last Updated April 24, 2018