On Friday, July 15, at the Elaine Langone Center of Bucknell University, seven small businesses participated in an exhibition of their products and told their stories of success as aided by the Bucknell University Small Business Development Center (SBDC), including Gilson Boards, Novipod, RunLites, Heritage Springs Memory Care, Upper Desk, Threading Love, and Medtrics Lab. Business owners, lenders, economic development partners, university officials, and legislators joined the SBDC for the presentation of awards which included Small Business of the Year, Innovation in New Product Development, Social Entrepreneur, and Charles H. Coder Entrepreneurial Leadership Awards.
A number of guests, including Pennsylvania Representatives Lynda Schlegel Culver and Fred Keller, gathered at the event to recognize the achievements of the small business owners and listen to remarks given by Steven Stumbris, Director of the Bucknell University SBDC; Barbara Altmann, Provost of Bucknell University; Diego Aldana & Uttam Kumaran, Bucknell Student Entrepreneurs: Co-Founders, MakerEDU; and Christian Conroy, State Director of the Pennsylvania SBDC.
Steven Stumbris, Director of the Bucknell SBDC stated, “Today’s event shared the stories of three remarkable entrepreneurs whose creativity, passion, and determination have helped them build successful small businesses. I’m proud that the assistance of the SBDC has helped them to start, grow, and prosper; and it is the achievements of innovative business owners like them that are driving the economy of the 21st century.
The awards were given as follows:
Small Business Person of the Year Award: In recognition of entrepreneurial success in planning, launching, and growing a new business in central Pennsylvania
Michael Levan, Novipod, LLC
Michael Levan is the Co-founder of Novipod, LLC, a technology that brings never-before seen transparency to asset tracking. After waiting for the delivery of a critical electronic device he was being shipped, Michael Levan realized that there had to be a better way to monitor high value assets in real time, and decided to create that medium himself. He and his co-founder, David, Capatch, began working to design the architecture for their technology and approached the SBDC for assistance with their business plan, marketing, and capital security. The SBDC also helped with product development and prototyping through their Engineering Development Services. Novipod launched in 2015, and their integrative and customizable tracking software provides a wide range of information about a package in a completely transparent fashion. It allows customers to track assets in real time, providing levels of security and accountability never before available.
Innovation in New Product Development Award: In recognition of innovation in new product development and exemplary collaboration with Bucknell University’s College of Engineering.
Mary Tiffin, RunLites
Marry Tiffin, CEO of RunLites, came up with her product after having to carry a few of her son’s camping flashlights each night that she would go out for a run because her extremely busy day schedule did not allot time for her to go during the day. Mary turned to Bucknell University SBDC for help in topics such as business startup procedures, marketing strategies, and financial projections. Concurrently, the SBDC’s specialty Engineering Development Services assisted her with patent research, product development, and prototyping. In addition to having a background in fashion and technology, Mary is also a talented marketer and networker. Kevin Harrington, one of the original sharks from ABC’s Shark Tank invested into Mary’s business venture. His investment, advice, and video testimonial on the website for her RunLites gloves helped build significant buzz for the product launch. Mary was also recognized by the SBDC and PA Representative Lynda Schlegel Culver as a regional winner of the Small Business Administration’s 2016 InnovateHER Business Challenge.
Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award: In recognition of positive impact on the world’s social problems, achieved through entrepreneurial methods and ventures.
Kaitlin Schuck, Threading Love
Kaitlin Schuck, founder of Threading Love, was keenly aware of the suffering caused by sex trafficking, poverty, homelessness, harsh living and working conditions, and she wanted to make others aware of these issues and inspire them to make change. After meeting with the SBDC, they assisted Kaitlin in completing a business plan, finding a location, obtaining a line of credit for working capital, lining up suppliers and beginning to place merchandise orders. In summer of that same year, a grand opening celebration was held with the SBDC for her new business. The purpose of the company is to “connect people from around the world by using fashion to save lives.” In just two short years, the SBDC once again celebrated a ribbon cutting with Kaitlin as she moved her successful business into a larger location: right across the street from the SBDC in downtown Lewisburg!