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Harrisburg, PA – East Stroudsburg University (ESU) student Stelios Melekos won the $10,000 first place prize in the annual State System Startup Challenge sponsored by Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education (PASSHE). Melekos created a business plan for Blitz Performance LLC which provides anglers with lures and apparel for both saltwater and freshwater fishing.
 
Three students participated in the finals by pitching their plans to a panel of business leaders for a chance to win funds to support the start-up or growth of their business. The Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN) aired the live competition Wednesday evening. 
 
Stelios Melekos.jpg“Congratulations to Stelios for this victory and I thank every student from across the system who competed this year,” said State System Board of Governors Chairwoman Cynthia D. Shapira. “These students are a great example of the innovation and entrepreneurial spirit that is thriving on our campuses. The State System Startup Challenge helps the next generation of business leaders to get their start and demonstrates the partnerships between State System universities and the business community.”
 
Melekos, an ESU junior business management student with a concentration in entrepreneurship from Churchville, Pa., created the business plan for Blitz Performance products, which are available to retail customers online at blitzfishingperformance.com and wholesale at tackle shops across five states. Blitz Performance is committed to building a sense of community around the brand by developing the tools to catch more fish and make the most of anglers’ time on the water.
 
PSECU funded the $10,000 first place prize and the PA Chamber of Business and Industry is providing a complimentary membership and other benefits. 
 
West Chester University senior Jake Henry won the $5,000 second place award for a business plan for Lectra Tape, which helps people navigate their rehabilitation process and complete physical therapy. Lectra Tape is conductive kinesiology tape that delivers electrical pulses from a wireless muscle stimulator to aid in the healing and rehabilitation process. Sensors in the tape collect data that is analyzed and shared with the user and physical therapists, so they can adjust rehabilitation plans to provide the best results and encourage the individual to continue their physical therapy. Henry is a Bachelor’s of Applied Science student with a pharmaceutical product development concentration from Camp Hill, Pa.
 
The Ben Franklin Technology Partners and the Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Company funded the second place prize.
 
PennWest Edinboro freshman Victoria Heffelfinger won the $2,500 third place award with a business plan for Wildlife Water School LLC, an aquatic instruction school that provides swimming lessons for people ages 6 months and older. Offering an inclusive environment for people of all abilities and backgrounds, the school provides basic skills, infant swimming resources, and advanced instruction. Specialized lessons for people with disabilities or other challenges are also available. Lesson schedules and information are available www.wildlifewaterschool.com. Heffelfinger is a freshman special education student from North Huntingdon, Pa.
 
Marathon Studios funded the third place prize and will provide business coaching to help the student capitalize, develop and growth the venture.
 
“This business plan competition gives State System students the opportunity to pursue their dreams here in Pennsylvania,” said State System Chancellor Daniel Greenstein. “These students remind us about the value of public higher education to strengthen Pennsylvania’s economy as they translate a classroom education to real-world experience. Thank you to the students, faculty and universities for making this possible.” 
 
The judges for the State System Startup Challenge were Cynthia Pritchard, Vice President, Senior Philanthropic Specialist for Wells Fargo; David Kerr, President of External Affairs for AT&T; Adam Stewart, Vice President of Strategic Growth Marketing and Relationship Management for PSECU, and Taylor Rowles, Senior Manager of Market Integration for Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Company.​

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