Richard Wetzel of Poland, a senior at Youngstown State University, placed first at the OH-PENN Business Plan Competition, and his winning entry is drawing interest from some potential investors.
YSU students Ashley Roberts and Emily Corsale, both of Youngstown, placed third and won $500 each in the event at Grove City College earlier this spring.
The contest was organized by eCenter@LindenPointe, a technology business incubator in Hermitage, Pa.
Students from five universities (Allegheny College, Grove City College, Penn State Behrend, Ursinus College and YSU) submitted more than 50 business plans for consideration. Nine finalists were selected to present their concepts before judges.
Wetzel, who won the $2,000 grand prize and is scheduled to graduate from YSU this fall, is an international business major with a minor in entrepreneurship in YSU’s Williamson College of Business Administration.
He developed a business concept that uses selective laser sintering and 3-D scanning technology to produce custom prosthetic leg covers.
The invention for amputees is called “Pro Cover,” and his company is called Wetzel Innovations. Wetzel will be meeting with interested investors from the Penn Northwest Development Corp.
Wetzel, whose long-term plans are to use 3-D printing and additive manufacturing to revitalize Youngstown, will work at a paid internship this summer with MakerBot in Brooklyn, N.Y. MakerBot is the leading brand in desktop 3-D printers.
Donna Walsh, program director at the YSU Monus Entrepreneurship Center, said Wetzel has taken full advantage of the opportunities the WCBA offers. He has been a member of Enactus, the student entrepreneurship organization, for the past two years, and has made dean’s list for the past five semesters, all while working as assistant manager at 850 Blues in Boardman.
Wetzel traveled to Dublin, Ireland, in March 2013 with 15 other students for an international study experience through the WCBA. During the trip, students collaborated with local entrepreneurs at business incubators and gained valuable experience in international business and entrepreneurship.
Roberts and Corsale placed third by creating a business plan that targets women and allows customers to subscribe to monthly customized boxes of feminine-care products to be delivered to their homes.
The idea, called My Dot Box, was first fostered during the fall 2012 semester in Roberts’ New Venture Creation class.
Roberts also won an honorable mention in the Penn State 2012 Lion’s Den Elevator Pitch Competition.