Two Penn State startups split $10,000 prize in local pitch competition

Technologies showcased included smart laundry, on-demand nurse practitioners, and anxiety management for adults and children

Bob Dornich, right, director of the TechCelerator@State College, presents a check to Joseph Kitonga, Penn State alumnus and founder of Vitable Health.   Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Seven technology startups pitched their business concepts to a panel of judges, with hopes of winning a cash prize of up to $10,000 from Ben Franklin Technology Partners, on May 21 at Innovation Park in State College.

“In the TechCelerator we normally get outstanding individuals and this cohort is no exception. Some of these companies, in addition to creating well-paying jobs, have the ability to improve society, science and research. It is an honor to work with such innovative, tenacious, and brilliant people,” Bob Dornich, director of the TechCelerator, said.

The startups are graduates of this spring’s TechCelerator@State College, a pre-business accelerator held twice a year. The TechCelerator is supported by Invent Penn State, a Commonwealth-wide initiative to spur economic development, job creation and student career success.

Once all the startups presented, the judges split the top prize of $10,000 between Chute and Vitable Health.

Chute is a laundry service that uses artificial intelligence to create an inventory of a customer’s clothes for their own use and for brands the company partners with.

“The coaches really took a personal stake in me and really pushed me to succeed — even while I was in school. It was a great experience,” said Royce Dsouza, CTO of Chute and a Penn State graduate in philosophy.

Vitable Health is an on-demand, urgent care service that provides a nurse practitioner within an hour. It is currently running a pilot program in Philadelphia.

“The businesses in this program were further along compared to other programs. Being able to focus on acquiring customers with companies doing the same thing drove me to succeed,” said Joseph Kitonga, founder of Vitable Health and a Penn State graduate in engineering.

The other five startups this spring included:

  • Argolytics – Tamela Serensits and Mark Lee. Software for small manufacturers that need affordable, accurate, statistical reports for quality control.
  • Beemia – Andrew Strause, Colleen McBride, Dan Lordan, Giancarlo Avendano, Nicole Kosuda and Tom Baron. Housing, entertainment and lifestyle information for college communities through a mobile app.
  • KIK TRIKS – Judy and Kadin Karaky. Products that help children and young adults manage anxiety.
  • Kinetic Science Solution – Mike Duffey. Instruments that diagnose deficits in ankle strength and balance for athletes, military members and senior citizens.
  • Qorius – Natalie Briggs and Joshua Robinson. Microscope slides for the detection of biological molecules, with improved clarity, precision and reliability.

In seven years, 111 teams have started 114 companies following the TechCelerator, raised more than $35 million in funding, hired 289 people and earned a combined $24 million in revenue.

Last Updated September 04, 2020