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Accelerator for early-stage business ideas

Build your business idea and craft your elevator pitch in 1 week! Startup Challenge is an action-packed startup intensive for community, students, and professionals with early-stage business ideas. Whether you are an experienced entrepreneur or just starting out, Startup Challenge gives you the structure and support to build a business model and craft a powerful pitch while competing for prizes!

Startup Challenge is brought to you by Abington LaunchBox powered by Penn State, Berks LaunchBox powered by Penn State, Corner LaunchBox, Great Valley LaunchBox powered by Penn State, Happy Valley LaunchBox powered by PNC Bank, Harrisburg LaunchBox powered by Penn State and Invent Penn State.

  • Virtual startup-building intensive for early-stage business ideas
  • Build your business idea and a powerful pitch in a week
  • Win prizes in final elevator pitch competition
  • Participation is by application only. Open to any PA-based individual or team. No affiliation with Penn State is required for application.
Key Dates:
  • Startup Challenge runs between November 6th-14th, 2020.
  • Program kicks off Friday evening, Nov 6th and concludes with the finale weekend Nov 13th-14th
  • Apply by October 18th using the Apply Now button below


All are Welcome

Startup Challenge welcomes participants from all locations, backgrounds and levels of experience. No affiliation with Penn State University is required to apply.

Business ideas must early stage. If you’ve launched your business, finished your prototype, or completed your business model, you’re too far along.

We want your “big idea”

The focus of Startup Challenge is scalable ideas — while this usually means technology, we welcome tangible products and scalable social innovation as well.

Event Schedule

  • Friday November 6th, 2020 (recording available to teams who cannot attend Nov 6 program)
    • 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm  Program kickoff and overview, introduction of teams and coaches
    • Between Nov 6-13, teams work independently to accomplish required startup milestones, meeting with program coaches on their own time
  • Friday, November 13th, 2020  (attendance mandatory to full virtual program)
    • 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm  Finale weekend kickoff, elevator pitch bootcamp
    • 7:00 – 9:00 pm  Teams receive pitch coaching and work on pitch preparation on own time
  • Saturday, November 14th, 2020  (attendance mandatory to full virtual program)
    • 8:30 am – 11:30 am  Elevator pitch coaching panel sessions
    • 1 pm – 3 pm Final Pitch Competition
    • 3:30 pm Winning Teams Announced and Awards

Elevator Pitch Competition Prizes

Prizes for the winning pitches include resources and services designed to help take your winning pitch from idea to reality.  While we’re still compiling the full list of goodies, prizes include:

  • Guaranteed spot in  Idea TestLab cohort, and access to up to $3000 in grant funding for customer discovery
  • 3 months free mentoring from Ben Franklin Technology Partners and access to Ben Franklin Technology Partners TechCelerator program classes
  • Free graphic/logo design and website design consultation
  • Free MVP design assistance (including 3D printing assistance)
  • Free copy(s) of The Mom Test by Rob Fitzpatrick (essential resource for customer discovery)
  • Free 1:1 virtual business research consultation with Penn State business librarian
  • More on the way!  Check back soon for more prizes.

How to Apply

Ready to #GetStarted?  Apply to Startup Challenge here.

Application must be completed by 11:59 pm on Sunday, October 18th, 2020 to be considered.  Accepted applicants will be notified by Friday, October 23rd, 2020 via email.

Program is by application only – limited number of spots available.  Open to any PA-based individual or team with an early stage business idea that is pre-development and pre-launch. No affiliation with Penn State is required for application.



Do I have to attend the entire program and complete all the milestones?