A collaboration between THInC partners CAN BE and the Hazleton Launchbox supported by Pasco Schaivo, Esq., as well as Penn State University’s Happy Valley LaunchBox, helped an entrepreneur grow her business from a literal seed into a reality.
After graduating from the Happy Valley LaunchBox, powered by PNC Bank’s FastTrack Accelerator program in the spring of 2021, Krista Schneider, founder of Shared Roots, landed the initial funding she needed to formally launch her business when she won the 19th annual tecBRIDGE Business Plan Competition non-collegiate competition.
At Shared Roots, Schneider takes waste products (spent grain and hops) from the Berwick Brewing Company and upcycles them into biodegradable garden squares made with recycled paper that are pre-seeded and ready to plant. As they decompose, they feed the soil with vital nutrients and organic matter while fending off weeds until the seeds germinate.
In addition to a cash prize received from winning the tecBRIDGE competition, Schneider also received several months of donated space within the CAN BE Innovation Center, an in-kind prize offered by CAN DO each year. The collective winnings allowed Schneider to hire Lauren Youngcourt, a recent Penn State graduate who majored in plant science with a specialization in horticulture, to assist with prototyping her product for customer trials this summer.
Schneider said CAN DO Director of Economic Development, Jocelyn Sterenchock, worked with her to find a space at CAN BE that fit her needs and was grateful that CAN BE offered light manufacturing space as part of the tecBRIDGE prize package.
“CAN BE is a great gift to the entrepreneurial community because of its convenience and resources. It has lots of flexible space, access to a loading dock, shared WiFi, etc.. It's a nice turnkey setup for somebody who is ready to start their business but doesn't have a lot of seed money to invest in a facility.” she said.
Although she just moved in to CAN BE a few weeks ago, Schneider is very familiar with the incubator thanks to her time as director of the Downtown Hazleton Alliance for Progress where she worked with Sterenchock and other THInC partners to help forward entrepreneurship throughout the Downtown and she encourages others to inquire about available space within CAN BE, as well as the additional locations and resources provided by the collective.
“I definitely love the incubator model. It's important to have facilities like this where entrepreneurs have access to low-cost space and shared resources. There are so many organizations working together to grow the local economy in Northeast PA. Now that I’ve experienced both perspectives, I feel pretty confident in saying our entrepreneurial ecosystem is one of the best in the state.”
For more information on Shared Roots, visit www.shared-roots.com or find them on social media.