Berks LaunchBox announces winners of pitch competition

Berks LaunchBox powered by Penn State recently announced the winners of its third pitch competition. DN Organics took first place and Paragon Behavioral Health took second. Both companies received $125 in seed funding from the LaunchBox.

The competition began with entrepreneurs attending a webinar titled “Step-by-Step Process for Creating a Killer Pitch Deck.”

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Attendees learned how to build a product pitch to share their startup idea with investors, advisors and others, and also learned the key elements needed to tell a compelling yet concise story.

Photo courtesy of Penn State Berks: Kryn McClain, co-founder of Paragon Behavioral Health, is pictured holding her second-place certificate, surrounded by Berks LaunchBox staff.

They were then invited to practice and polish their pitches with Berks LaunchBox staff. Those teams were invited to pitch to the Berks LaunchBox Advisory Council and advisors for additional feedback, exposure, networking and an opportunity to secure $250 in seed funding.

The judges decided to split the $250 in seed funding and award first and second prizes of $125 to the top two teams: DN Organics, a natural hair care line created to empower women to embrace their natural curls founded by Penn State Berks alumni sisters Cory Dahlia Varona Corniel and Nicol Varona Cancelmo; and Paragon Behavioral Health, a startup that produces educational virtual reality content to teach life skills for a fully immersive learning experience, cofounded by Dr. Kryn McClain.

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Competition judges from the Berks LaunchBox Advisory Council and other advisers are experienced business professionals who rated pitch presentations based on customer understanding, product market fit, competitive advantage, and business model. They also asked pointed questions to the teams and provided feedback and ideas for next steps.

“Each entrepreneur’s level of preparation was very impressive. Their presentation skills, ability to concisely convey product and market knowledge, and consistency of their rubric were all indicators of the LaunchBox team’s exceptional expertise, support, and guidance in helping them prepare for the competition” said Lawrence N. Bonino, senior business advisor with Marathon Capital Advisors.

“In my role as a senior advisor for Marathon Business Advisory Services, I see dozens of pitch presentations each year. The presentations I helped evaluate at the LaunchBox Pitch Competition ranked among some of the best I’ve seen so far this year.”

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