Bucknell University SBDC and Rep. Lynda Schlegel Culver Announce Regional Winner of InnovateHER Business Challenge

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Bucknell University Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and Pennsylvania State Representative Lynda Schlegel Culver are pleased to announce Mary Tiffin of Mangata LLC as the regional winner for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)’s second annual InnovateHER Business Challenge

Mangata wins a local first prize of $500, and advances to a national semi-final round with a shot at being selected as one of ten nationwide finalists to compete for a $40,000 grand prize.

Knowing that finding time for one’s own health in a busy work and family schedule can be challenging, Mary Tiffin designed and patented RunLites, a sleek glove with built-in high-powered LED lights that are perfect for runners, cyclists, and other athletes who want to exercise after the sun goes down, or before it comes up.  She launched Mangata in early 2015 and has been promoting RunLites in national publications and regional venues such as the Comcast Health and Fitness Expo at the recent Philadelphia Marathon.

In her remarks to the winner, Representative Culver stated that “Mary’s innovative concept and development of RunLites is a story of great achievement that will hopefully motivate other aspiring women in our region to reach for their goals and succeed.  I wish her the best as she moves forward to the next round of the competition.”  She continued, “I applaud the Bucknell SBDC for their coordination of the InnovateHER competition and their partnership with the National InnovateHER Business Challenge.  Bucknell’s SBDC assists countless individuals and small businesses in our area every year, and we are very lucky to have them supporting local small business entrepreneurs.”

“We are very pleased with how the InnovateHER challenge helped to shine a light on some of the high-achieving woman-owned businesses in our region,” said Steven Stumbris, Director of Bucknell’s SBDC.  “The impact that these entrepreneurs, products, and services have on the lives of women and families is highly positive; and Mary’s story of invention, determination, and success is an inspiring one.  We’re also delighted to partner once again with Representative Culver to support and celebrate small business.”  Culver was recognized by the Bucknell SBDC with the Charles H. Coder Entrepreneurial Leadership Award in 2012.

Addressing the needs of women and the role they play in America’s economy, SBA held the first InnovateHER Business Challenge in early 2015 as a nationwide competition for entrepreneurs developing products and services that enhance the lives of women and their families.

As an InnovateHER partner, the Bucknell SBDC was tasked with selecting one local winner to advance to the 2016 National Business Challenge.  Media and economic development partners joined the SBDC in announcing the program to the region in November.  Entrepreneurs were called upon to submit executive summaries and business plans that demonstrated how their business or product impact the lives of women and families, has potential for commercialization, and fills a need in the marketplace.

From a highly competitive pool of dozens of inquiries and applicants, three finalists advanced to a review by an external panel.  Judges included Tea Jay Aikey, Executive & Finance Assistant for the Central Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce; Jessica Brazier, Vice President of M&T Bank; and Renee Gerringer, Director of Programs & Development with the Greater Susquehanna Chamber of Commerce.

The national finalists will gather during the SBA’s InnovateHER: Innovating for Women Business Summit on March 17, 2016 in Washington, D.C.  This national symposium will aid women small business owners in identifying opportunities for women’s entrepreneurship and innovation, and give them the chance to make connections to valuable resources and other successful women entrepreneurs. The event will provide the mindset, strategy, skills and connections women need to own and run profitable businesses.

The Bucknell University SBDC provides services to all small business populations and makes special efforts to reach and engage members of historically underrepresented and underserved populations, including women. Over the past three years, women-and jointly-owned businesses have represented more than half of the center’s success stories. Aspiring entrepreneurs and existing business owners are encouraged to contact the Bucknell University SBDC for confidential, no-fee services at (570) 577-1249 or by visiting www.Bucknell.edu/SBDC.