April 01, 2024

PASSHE Students to Compete in 2024 State System Startup Challenge Finals

Contact: Kevin Hensil, khensil@passhe.edu

PASSHE Students to Compete in 2024 State System Startup Challenge Finals

Harrisburg, PA – Students from state-owned universities will compete in the final round of the annual State System Startup Challenge, Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) announced today. The student entrepreneurs will pitch their original business plans to a panel of judges for a chance to win funds to support their startup or expand their business.

The Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN) will air the competition live at 7 p.m. April 3. Viewers also can watch it live on PCN Select.

“This is another great year for the State System Startup Challenge, with three impressive student entrepreneurs and their innovative businesses that span bioscience, information technology and finance,” said Board of Governors Chairwoman Cynthia Shapira. “These students are a great example of the thousands of entrepreneurs at State System universities who are posed for success in business and other in-demand careers. I commend the supportive faculty and the remarkable ingenuity and energy of the students.”

The top prize is $10,000, and second- and third-place finishers will receive prizes of $5,000 and $3,000, respectively. More than 50 students and teams competed from across the state-owned public university system.

“I commend these remarkable student entrepreneurs, as well as the faculty who have supported them,” said Chancellor Dan Greenstein. “Several past winners of this competition have launched their own businesses from the ideas born of this real-life experience, and I look forward to the new businesses that may emerge from this year’s competition.”

The three State System Startup Challenge Finalists are:

East Stroudsburg University

2024 PASSHE Startup Challenge finalist Diaa Meqdadi Diaa Meqdadi, a senior computer science and computer security student from East Stroudsburg, Pa., who also is pursuing a minor in mathematics. Meqdadi will present a business plan for Mercial LLC, a company dedicated to simplifying data management and digital marketing solutions. Mercial uses an innovative approach to develop drag-and-drop customizable database API software, which could revolutionize how businesses handle their data. The company intends to empower businesses in the digital age.

Shippensburg University 

2024 PASSHE Startup Challenge finalist Drew DaileyDrew Dailey, a graduate student from Phoenix, Md., who is pursuing an MBA after completing bachelor’s degrees in supply chain management and finance. Dailey will present a business plan for Deal Seal, which allows collectors of sports cards and collectibles to safely buy, sell and trade on social media platforms. Deal Seal provides transaction security and protection from scams for online customers using credit cards or cash.


Shippensburg University

2024 PASSHE Startup Challenge finalist Nicholas KornilowNicholas Kornilow, a junior biology student with a concentration in health professions and a business minor, from Waynesboro, Pa. Kornilow will present a business plan for BioBlooms Naturals, a holistic oral hygiene brand dedicated to redefining the concept of dental care by integrating nature-inspired solutions with innovative practices. BioBlooms Naturals will offer a comprehensive range of products designed to promote affordable oral health and overall wellness using natural, sustainable, and eco-friendly ingredients. The company’s product lines include traditional products, biodegradable tools, a naturally sourced dental floss, an innovative chew, and future programming for smart brushes.

The judges for the State System Startup Challenge finals will be David Brantley, director of sales and marketing at Passenger Coffee and Tea; David Gongora, assistant director of corporate talent acquisition at Hershey Entertainment & Resorts; Andrea Jones, consulting manager at Deloitte; Steve Ross, managing director at Onsite ICF; Adam Stewart, vice president of strategic growth and marketing at PSECU; and Wyatt Troxell, director of membership development and sales at PSECU.

Editor’s Note: Photos of the individual students are available by contacting Kevin Hensil, khensil@passhe.edu.