Skip to the content

Berks Alliance announces winners of Business Plan Challenge


Berks Alliance today announced the winners of the 2020 Business Plan Challenge. The competition was open to undergraduate and graduate students currently enrolled at Albright College, Alvernia University, Kutztown University, Penn State Berks and Reading Area Community College including students who have graduated from one of these institutions within the last three years. 

The business pitch, which was held virtually Aug. 10, included three aspiring businesses. Each of the competing teams made a seven-minute pitch to a panel of judges in front of a live audience. Judges then asked each team questions. 

VerdeMantis, a Reading business, won the business pitch, earning a $20,000 investment in the company. Led by Joe Sinclair, the company manufactures easy-to-use and affordable desktop 3D printers. Sinclair is the CEO of the business and a Penn State Berks graduate. 

Traduki, led by Ryan Morris, also received a $5,000 investment in his language translation service company. The Reading area business offers its services online and over the telephone. Its initial focus has been on medical translation services, working in collaboration with Penn State Health System, but the company hopes to extend the scope of its services. 

Rainbow Fish Café, an initiative by a group of Albright College Students, finished in third place. It focused on creating a welcoming coffee shop/cafe environment for young people in the community to gather at night. With a focus on supporting LGBTQ+ patrons, the café would offer a safe place for late-night gatherings. 

“The Berks Alliance is pleased to have supported this Business Plan competition.  We engaged in this initiative in the spirit of promoting entrepreneurship and innovation in our community.  To that end, we are pleased to announce these winners that embody the spirit of this competition. Congratulations to VerdeMantis and Traduki,” said John Weidenhammer, President of Weidenhammer and Chair of the Berks Alliance. 

The judges for the competition included Scot Case, a local consultant and entrepreneur; Gail Landis, former Senior Vice President for Government and Community Relations, GRCA; June Clougher a local entrepreneur and former head of the Jump Start Incubator; Connie Faylor, Regional Manager for the Ben Franklin Technology Partners, and Chenna Chakka, a business leader who is also a member of the Pennsylvania Minority Business Development Fund. 

The competition is based on the Business Idea Challenge which was last held in 2018, and serves as a catalyst for current students at the area colleges to help launch their business.  The Berks Alliance expanded that old competition concept in several ways to encourage young entrepreneurs to launch their business.