Berks LaunchBox gives companies to entrepreneurs, startup firms

Berks LaunchBox gives companies to entrepreneurs, startup firms

A fantastic thought is barely an thought with no framework on which to construct it.
Berks LaunchBox gives that framework for entrepreneurs and enterprise startups, providing no-cost coworking area, use of 3D printers and different tools, enterprise growth lessons, pitch competitions, entry to mentors and specialists, speaker sequence, a enterprise boot camp, enterprise accelerator applications, authorized recommendation by way of Penn State Legislation clinics and different companies.
The group is supported by Invent Penn State, a statewide program began in 2016 to encourage entrepreneurship and financial growth in communities throughout the state. Berks LaunchBox was established in 2017 as a collaborative effort between Penn State Berks and Penn State Well being St. Joseph. Initially positioned within the decrease degree of Penn State St. Joseph’s Downtown Campus, it moved to the GoggleWorks Middle for the Arts in downtown Studying in 2019.
Individuals attend a pitch-night competitors on the LaunchBox makerspace within the GoggleWorks. (PHOTO COURTESY BERKS LAUNCHBOX)Its mission, based on Erica Kunkle, interim director of constant training at Penn State Berks and interim director of Berks LaunchBox, is to assist early-stage entrepreneurs entry the instruments and assets they should be profitable in Larger Studying.
“We all know that beginning a enterprise isn’t simple, however LaunchBox can present loads of assist and help to assist entrepreneurs get their startups off the bottom,” Kunkle stated.
The makerspace on the GoggleWorks provides entrepreneurs, college students and different entry to 3D printers, computer systems, a wise reducing machine, laser cutter, printers, training software program and extra.
Berks LaunchBox workers members, from left to proper, Michelle Hnath; Erica Kunkle; Lisa Weaver; and Patty Leshinski. (PHOTO COURTESY BERKS LAUNCHBOX)Patty Leshinski, a mechanical engineer who serves as amenities coordinator, stated the area is free to Penn State school, workers and college students, however open to any grownup fascinated about utilizing the tools and accessing the experience of educated workers and mentors for an affordable membership charge. These beneath 18 can entry the area totally free when accompanied by a member. Many individuals have taken benefit of the makerspace, which gives alternatives for collaboration and lessons.
“It’s simply an inspirational place to work,” Leshinski stated. “There’s loads of creativity in that area.”
Berks LaunchBox, which makes use of the motto “Don’t Give up Your Daydream,” in 2021 assisted 115 entrepreneurs, half of whom had been individuals of shade. Anybody the higher Berks County space can search recommendation and enter for free of charge from LaunchBox; there isn’t a requirement for Penn State affiliation.
LaunchBox Success Tales
DN Organics, a Studying-based firm that’s launched a pure hair care line for girls with curly hair, is one startup that benefited from the companies of Berks LaunchBox.
Based by sisters Cory Dahlia Varona Corniel and Nicol Varona Cancelmo, DN Organics is the results of their need to embrace their naturally curly hair and allow others to do the identical.
“Our mission is to honor curly girls of their genuine sense,” stated Corniel.
Sisters Cory Dahlia Varona-Corniel, left, and Nicol Varona Cancelmo based DN Organics with help from Berks LaunchBox. (PHOTO COURTESY BERKS LAUNCHBOX)The sisters, each graduates of Penn State Berks, started working with LaunchBox early within the means of getting their enterprise began and stated the assistance they obtained was invaluable.
“They linked us with a mentor who had beforehand launched a product and who gave us nice recommendation,” Corniel stated. “We additionally bought a grant from Berks LaunchBox that we used to boost our web site.”
Designated as a co-working firm, they labored with LaunchBox workers to design and print product stickers within the makerspace on the GoggleWorks. They had been launched to different entrepreneurs and given an opportunity to current a digital pitch for his or her product, an ultra-defined curls leave-in hair cream they launched final yr. A second product — a styling gel — turned accessible earlier this yr, with each merchandise accessible in full and pattern sizes on the DN Organics web site.
Of all the assistance they obtained from LaunchBox, the mentors they linked with have been probably the most invaluable, based on Corniel.
“You’ll be able to’t put a financial worth on these mentorships, that are so necessary to a small enterprise,” she stated.
The sisters additionally worth their persevering with relationship with the group.
“We return and ask for assist with reviewing grant functions and different issues,” Cancelmo stated. “We will faucet into them and maintain asking for assist.”
Different native companies that linked with Berks LaunchBox embody Conscious Roots Yoga, which developed a program to show elementary-age kids mindfulness and yoga, expertise which were proven to spice up self-confidence, relieve stress, construct power and suppleness and enhance self-control; Verde Mantis, LP, which produces high-quality, low-cost 3D printers; CarToCamp, which designed and manufactures a sleeping platform that matches into most SUVs; and RISQUE by Talonda Healthcare Consultants and Educators LLC, an organization that’s working to scale back maternal mortality charges, significantly amongst girls of shade.
Tolanda Rogers, founding father of Talonda Healthcare Consultants and Educators LLC, delivers her enterprise pitch to different entrepreneurs throughout a LaunchBox pitch competitors. (PHOTO COURTESY BERKS LAUNCHBOX)Talonda Rogers, founding father of RISQUE, participated final yr in LaunchBox’s thought check lab, an intensive six-week “bootcamp” for early-stage entrepreneurs. LaunchBox workers members have been extraordinarily supportive, she stated, introducing her to potential traders, serving to her establish attainable clients and connecting her with authorized recommendation.
“I by no means knew there was a lot assist accessible to individuals who need to be entrepreneurs,” Rogers stated. “I can’t place a worth on what LaunchBox has accomplished for my firm.”
Different Providers and Occasions
Along with its GoggleWorks presence, Berks LaunchBox companions with Penn State Well being St. Joseph to supply a “Veggie Rx” program that advantages sufferers with diet-related well being considerations and a weekly farm stand on Tuesdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Penn State Well being St. Joseph’s Downtown Campus.
These applications are a part of LaunchBox’s social entrepreneurship endeavor, headed by Lisa Weaver, social entrepreneurship specialist.
This summer time, Berks LaunchBox will sponsor “Maker Mondays,” throughout which its makerspace will likely be open to the general public from 2 to eight p.m. It additionally periodically hosts free, neighborhood occasions at which contributors can use makerspace tools, and teams can request to make use of the makerspace occasions for studying alternatives. Upcoming occasions, together with lessons, webinars and audio system, are listed on the “Updates” part of LaunchBox’s web site at
The way to Study Extra or to Assist
Budding entrepreneurs can contact Berks LaunchBox by way of its web site and will likely be contacted by Michelle Hnath, a software program entrepreneur who first meets with entrepreneurs to debate concepts and methods and in addition mentors startups. You’ll be able to fill out a contact kind on-line, e mail at BK – [email protected] or name the LaunchBox at 610-396-6400.
Whereas Berks LaunchBox receives assist from Penn State and has been awarded grants, it’s at all times searching for further traders to guarantee it may proceed to supply assist for as many potential entrepreneurs as attainable. It additionally might use extra volunteers to supply recommendation on numerous features of beginning and operating a enterprise, significantly within the space of accounting.
“We’ve been doing the very best we will to verify our companies stay accessible to the neighborhood, however we additionally should be positive we stay sustainable,” Weaver stated. “It’s nice to have neighborhood companions who’re keen to assist us do this.”

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