MALVERN, Pa. — Penn State Great Valley is expanding its entrepreneurial outreach with the new Great Valley LaunchBox program. Great Valley joins multiple other Penn State campuses with LaunchBox programs, which are funded by Invent Penn State, a commonwealth-wide initiative to spur economic development, job creation, and student career success.
In May 2016, Penn State Great Valley received a $50,000 seed grant from Invent Penn State. The grant established the REV-UP Center for Entrepreneurship, a program operating in partnership with the Chester County Economic Development Council aimed to engage and support the entrepreneurial endeavors of Penn State students, faculty, and community members. REV-UP will be one of multiple services supported by the Great Valley LaunchBox.
“We’re thrilled to expand the services we offer the local entrepreneurial community,” said Leo Daiuto, entrepreneur-in-residence and director of the Great Valley LaunchBox. “Our mission is to inspire, advise and educate. We will continue to mentor and advise early stage companies and founders while supporting and contributing to the entrepreneurial community in the greater Philadelphia area.”
One of the primary focuses of the Great Valley LaunchBox is expanding mentoring and advisory services by offering office hours, meetings, workshops, speaker series, and co-working space, among other things. Thanks to previous events hosted by REV-UP and the local entrepreneurial community, the Great Valley LaunchBox presents budding entrepreneurs with a number of expert mentors.
Maura Jarve, creative director and founder of True Creative Partners, got involved with REV-UP last spring as a mentor at the Chester County Startup Weekend and judged the third annual Lion Cage competition in November. She particularly enjoyed working with the participants to help them refine and explore their ideas; the collaboration and connections also helped her further develop her own projects.
Having started multiple companies, Jarve is familiar with the ins and outs of entrepreneurism. She founded True Creative Partners in 2008 and used the skills she learned to form a theater group and an artwork business on Etsy.
“I am really excited to participate in the Great Valley LaunchBox in any way,” Jarve said. “I get a lot out of it, too. Inspiration is hard to come by. Being able to have conversations with people and be inspired by their ideas and see how they’re solving problems in a way that maybe I hadn’t thought of before … it’s like a symbiotic relationship.”
Carl J. Woodin, president of AZtech Multimedia & Training Group, was also a mentor and judge at Chester County Startup Weekend and Lion Cage, respectively. His connection to Penn State Great Valley spans back to 1991, when he earned his master’s degree in education. He served as an adjunct faculty member for six years and currently guest lectures in several courses and serves on the Great Valley Alumni Board.
After almost 20 years in the corporate world, Woodin founded AZtech in 2002. Starting the company entailed learning everything from how to register a name to tax laws — and this was before the ubiquity of online resources.
“I’m looking forward to helping people who are starting a business with what they need to do to get it off the ground,” Woodin said. “I think the Great Valley LaunchBox is amazing. Having started my own business, if this resource was available to me 18 years ago, I would have been the first one in line. … It’s just incredible what is available at basically no cost.”