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Two Local Startups Win Top TechCelerator Prize

by on May 24, 2019 5:00 PM

A pair of local startups — a laundry service utilizing artificial intelligence and an on-demand urgent care service — split the top prize in a business pitch competition hosted by Ben Franklin Technology Partners as the [email protected] College program graduated its newest class.

Seven technology startups pitched business ideas to a panel of judges as they vied for a $10,000 top prize on Tuesday at Innovation Park.

The judges ultimately decided on Chute and Vitable Health as co-winners.

Chute is a pickup laundry service in State College and Philadelphia that is now using artificial intelligence to create an inventory of the customer's clothes for their use and for partner brands.

“The coaches really took a personal stake in me and really pushed me to succeed — even while I was in school. It was a great experience,” Royce Dsouza, CTO of Chute and a Penn State graduate, said in a news release.

Techcelerator Director Bob Dornich presents a $5,000 check to Royce Dsouza, CTO of Chute, as co-winner of the May 21 startup pitch competition. Photo provided.

Currently running a pilot program in Philadelphia, Vitable Health is an on-demand, urgent care service that provides a nurse practitioner within an hour.

“The businesses in this program were further along compared to other programs. Being able to focus on acquiring customers with companies doing the same thing drove me to succeed,” said Joseph Kitonga, founder of Vitable Health and a Penn State graduate.

The competing startups graduated from the spring [email protected] College program, a pre-business accelerator. Through the program, experts from Ben Franklin Technology Partners and the Penn State Small Business Development Center help students through the steps of starting a business. The program is held twice a year in State College and three times in Altoona, Johnstown, Somerset, Erie, Lancaster, Indiana, Bedford, Huntingdon, Harrisburg and Clearfield.

The other five startups from this fall included:

- Argolytics — led by Tamela Serensits and Mark — which creates software for small manufacturers that need affordable, accurate, statistical reports for quality control.

- Beemia — led by Andrew Strause, Colleen McBride, Dan Lordan, Giancarlo Avendano, Nicole Kosuda and Tom Baron – offers Housing, entertainment and lifestyle information to college communities through a mobile app.

- KIK TRIKS – led Judy and Kadin Karaky – creates products to help children and young adults manage anxiety.

- Kinetic Science Solution — led by Mike Duffey — develops instruments that diagnose deficits in ankle strength and balance for athletes, military members and senior citizens.

- Qorius — led by Natalie Briggs and Joshua Robinson — creates microscope slides for the detection of biological molecules with improved clarity, precision and reliability.

“In the TechCelerator we normally get outstanding individuals and this cohort is no exception," said Bob Dornich Some of these companies, in addition to creating well-paying jobs, have the ability to improve society, science, and research. It is an honor to work with such innovative, tenacious, and brilliant people,” said Bob Dornich, director of the TechCelerator.

[email protected] College is a partnership among state, county and Penn State economic development groups that provides new entrepreneurs with space, loan and investment programs, business support and mentoring services, and entrepreneurial training in a single location at Innovation Park.

In its seven years, the accelerator has graduated 111 teams that have gone on to start 114 companies, raise more than $35 million in funding, hire 289 people and earn a combined $24 million in revenue. 

For more information, visit

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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