Students, Faculty Take Top Honors at Regional Business Plan Competition
East Stroudsburg University walked away with top honors in both the collegiate and non-collegiate sectors of the tecBRIDGE Business Plan Competition on April 25 at the F.M. Kirby Center in downtown Wilkes-Barre. ESU students Zachary Waldman and Nick Neely, both seniors majoring in computer security from Mechanicsburg, Pa., earned first place in the collegiate sector of the competition with their creation, Falchion Systems. Nicole Chinnici ’14, director of The Jane Huffman Wildlife Genetics Institute at ESU, won first place in the non-collegiate sector with her creation, Organtick. Winning companies received $10,000 in cash and up to $100,000 of in-kind business support services. Jessica Rosen, a 2011 graduate of ESU from Henryville was a finalist in the non-collegiate competition with her reptile food business, The Laughing Lizard.
“I am extremely proud of our students, faculty and staff who work tirelessly in and outside of the classroom to take innovation to the next level,” said ESU President Marcia G. Welsh, Ph.D. “Having Zach, Nick and Nicole win in these two categories, and a Jessica compete as a finalist, demonstrates the regional impact of our entrepreneurial learning environment at ESU. Our legacy of being an innovative, entrepreneurial campus continues to grow with the achievements of these students, staff and alumni.”
Falchion Systems prevents companies’ users from harming themselves and their company’s sensitive data with an innovative platform called Bulwark, a computer security platform that helps companies secure their computer networks and counter web-based social engineering attacks. In the final stages of this competition, Falchion Systems competed against other teams from Marywood University, University of Scranton, Wilkes University and Penn State University in the collegiate category. In 2018, Waldman and Neely took home third place honors in the seventh annual Student Business Plan Competition sponsored by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education and also won first place in the second Lehigh Valley Collegiate Business Pitch Summit competing against finalists from Lehigh University, Lafayette College and others.
Chinnici’s invention, Organtick, specializes in a three-step prevention model for personal, pet and home protection against ticks, aimed to decrease tick borne diseases in the United States with global potential. The company’s first product is a 100% all-natural tick repellent lotion and spray.
“This is an annual, regional Business Plan Competition designed to stimulate innovative thinking and leverage a technology-driven economy while retaining our region’s talent,” said Donald Webster, executive director and founding member of tecBRIDGE. “Building on current entrepreneurship education initiatives taking place at our local colleges and universities, tecBRIDGE recognizes the importance of entrepreneurship to a productive local economy.”
For more information on tecBRIDGE, visit tecbridgepa.org.