5 student startups win funding in Inc.U Competition

Dating app providing a safe online space for bisexual individuals wins $15,000
Founders of Bindr with large check

Student startup Bindr won $15,000 in the Inc.U Competition, which kicked off Penn State Startup Week powered by PNC.

Credit: Penn State

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Student startup Bindr won $15,000, the largest prize amount, in the 2023 Invent Penn State Inc.U Competition. Kicking off Penn State Startup Week powered by PNC, six Penn State student teams pitched their startups to a panel of judges and competed for up to $30,000 in funding.

Founded by Mary Richardson, a business student at Penn State York, Bindr is an all-inclusive dating app that provides a safe online space for bisexual individuals.

“We made Bindr so that people can have a place to make meaningful connections and a safe community, judgement free,” Richardson said. “Being in the Inc.U Competition has changed my life. We will use the funding to grow our application.”

The panel of judges also awarded funding to the following participating student startups:

  • $10,000 was awarded to Basketball Today, a startup that gives Generation Z sports content catered to their interests and social platform usage. The startup is founded by Justin Leusner, a student in the Smeal College of Business.
  • $2,500 was awarded to BeyondClass, a centralized hub that provides college students easy and fair access to opportunities such as scholarships, networking, and career boosting competitions. The startup is founded by students Stella Cho, College of the Liberal Arts, Daniel Lee, Eberly College of Science and College of Information Sciences and Technology, and Charlie Kim, College of Engineering.
  • $2,500 was awarded to Chirp Alert, an innovative application providing reliable news in challenging African environments. The startup is founded by College of Engineering students Eric Leon, Jamie Kantorczyk and Sonika Kohli.
  • $2,500 People’s Choice Award was won by Vera, which uses the latest technology to prepare college students for landing a job after graduation. Members of Vera include College of Engineering students Yaj Dewan, Omer Kandemir, Stephen Leshko and Omar Rady.

Other Inc.U Competition finalists included:

  • Solis, a user-friendly cloud computing platform. The startup is founded by Nico Symer, a student in the College of Information Sciences and Technology.

“We had a tremendous group of student founders pitch their startups this year,” said Joanna Sutton, Inc.U Competition director and innovation coordinator of Corner LaunchBox powered by Penn State New Kensington. “It was exciting to watch them grow within our program and make their final pitches in front of the judges. We look forward to seeing the continued growth of all the participating teams.”

Prior to the competition, finalists gained access to pitch training and startup support services. In addition, teams received support from the Penn State Law Entrepreneur Assistance Clinic to help establish LLCs and the Penn State Law Intellectual Property Clinic for patent and intellectual property assistance.

The final pitches can be viewed on the Invent Penn State YouTube channel on March 31.

About the Inc.U Competition

Inc.U is a signature program of Invent Penn State and an annual showcase of student innovation across the commonwealth. Every spring, the Inc.U Competition awards up to $30,000 in funding to the top six student startup teams at the culminating pitch event that takes place during Penn State Startup Week powered by PNC. This funding, coupled with ongoing pitch training and startup support services, enables student entrepreneurs to take the next step in turning their daydream into a reality.

This project was financed in part by a grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Community & Economic Development.