Fayette LaunchBox kicks off summer mentorship program for students

Rachel Kaplan (left) and Alaina Shaffer (right)

Rachel Kaplan (left) and Alaina Shaffer (right)

Credit: Penn State Fayette

LEMONT FURNACE, Pa. — A cohort of three students from Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus have been selected to participate in the second annual mentorship program at Fayette LaunchBox for six weeks this summer.

Fayette LaunchBox is a no-cost business accelerator designed to help regional entrepreneurs and University affiliates develop their ideas into commercially viable products and services. The facility is a joint venture between Penn State and the Fay-Penn Economic Development Council, under the Invent Penn State program, which encompasses 20 similar locations across the commonwealth.

The mentorship program, which provides students with microgrants and resources to develop their promising entrepreneurial ideas, is an initiative to generate more technology-based start-ups in the region.

Quentin Hales, Alaina Shaffer and Jessica Victor were selected to participate based on undergraduate research worthy of further development. Hales will work under the supervision of Douglas Rutledge, assistant teaching professor of physics, and Andy Royston, assistant professor of physics. Shaffer and Victor will work under the supervision of Julio Palma, assistant professor of chemistry.

Rachel Kaplan, assistant teaching professor of corporate communication, co-directs the Fayette LaunchBox program with Barbara Koffler, director of outreach and continuing education.

In her address to students at the program kick-off event, on May 17, Kaplan said, “Your research is worthy of further development. You are being paid to learn, experiment and research — seize the opportunity! We are excited to see your work develop to the marketplace.”

The cohort will attend workshops at the LaunchBox facilitated by University and community entrepreneurs, including “What is Crowdfunding?” (Matt Verlinich, Innovation Works), “The Importance of Digital Marketing” (Shannon Sankey, Penn State Fayette), “Entrepreneurial Planning” (Afshan Khan, Innovation Works) and “Branding Workshop” (Rachel Kaplan, Penn State Fayette).

Students are expected to complete weekly journal entries, conferences with mentors and group members, scholarly and industry reading, business reports and marketing plans, and “investor-ready” video pitches, which will be entered into the 2021 Penn State Startup competition.

The cohort will work in the Fayette LaunchBox space for eight hours each week and will be able to access the facilities to work independently or collaboratively during operating hours. The program will conclude on July 2.

To learn more, visit https://fayette.psu.edu/launchbox. To request information about Fayette LaunchBox, email [email protected] or call 724-437-7913.