Posted: April 7, 2017

Five student teams will live-pitch their new business concepts to judges April 13, in hopes of winning $7,500 during the final round of the 2017 Ag Springboard competition.

Luke Yost explains how the ModZero device allows a single scope to be used on multiple rifles, potentially saving time and money.

Luke Yost explains how the ModZero device allows a single scope to be used on multiple rifles, potentially saving time and money.

The final five teams:

  • ModZero is a new device that allows the same scope to be used on multiple rifles (Luke Yost, team leader).
  • Sweet Dreams Pet Lodge offers pet boarding and pampering (Megan McCunn, team leader.)
  • Little Farm is a new farm-to-consumer model in China (Hui Wang, team leader).
  • Pasta2050 is a new pasta product made with cricket flour (Weslie Khoo, team leader).
  • War Chest Supply Company offers a party supply kit in an upcycled military ammunition canister (Nathan Pearlman, team leader).

Twelve Ag Springboard judges reviewed the teams' video submissions and selected the finalist teams. Winners will be announced Thursday evening at an awards banquet featuring keynote speaker Todd Erdley, founder and CEO of Videon Central in State College.

Erdley is passionate about entrepreneurship, mentoring entrepreneurs and growing private industry in central Pennsylvania. He plans to speak about how everyone is a CEO -- whether that be for a business, or in their own lives.

This year's field of Ag Springboard teams raised the bar with their ideas and pitches, said Dr. Mark Gagnon, Entrepreneurship Coordinator at the College of Agricultural Sciences.

"I enjoy witnessing our students as they move forward with their own entrepreneurial journeys," said Gagnon. "Experiences like Ag Springboard help develop student entrepreneurial capacities that will certainly improve their career success."


Luke Yost, a competitive rifle shooter, invented a device that allows a single rifle scope to be used on multiple rifles without spending 20 minutes and 20 bullets to calibrate the scope to rifle. The ModZero device works by adapting the "zero point" of the rifle -- potentially saving professional military and law enforcement shooters and hunters time and money.

Yost, a junior studying material science and engineering, began working on a solution when faced with purchasing a $1,000 scope. He figured there had to be a better way.

Little Farm

Little Farm

Little Farm is a new, China-based farm-to-consumer business. The team wants to connect small-scale farms free of pollution that grow organic, non-genetically modified food with urban consumers interested in knowing where and how their food is produced. Team members include Penn State students Jiayi Wang and Hu Wang, a Ph.d. student in food science.

Little Farm seeks to connect those consumers with small, rural farms and provide the farms with technical support, quality control and data analysis. The goal is to raise the income for small-scale farmers, while providing urban consumers with farm fresh-sourced food.

War Chest Supply Company

War Chest Supply Company

The War Chest Supply Company looks to produce, market and brand a single carrying container for party supplies like cups, speakers, beverages, bottle opener, collapsible glasses and pong balls. The containers are made from converted military ammunition cans.

The key is an insert made from dishwasher-safe, bisphenol-A-free material and 3D printed with compartments for supplies. War Chest founders Sami Beining, a junior studying biorenewable systems, and Nathan Pearlman, a junior food science major, plan to sell the product online, build a brand and donate 10 percent of sales to the Fisher House Foundation to help military families.


Pasta 2050

The Pasta 2050 team tackles the problem of how to sustainably feed a booming world population by producing pasta made with high-protein cricket flour. Crickets require less land, water, feed and production space than livestock.

While the market for conventional pasta is shrinking, demand for healthier pasta -- for example high-protein and high-fiber pasta -- is increasing, notes the team. The Pasta 2050 cricket flour pasta contains fewer carbohydrates, more protein and more iron than conventional pasta. The Pasta 2050 team includes three graduate students from the Department of Food Science: Haoshu Zhang, Weslie Khoo and Lauriel Stewart.

Sweet Dreams Pet Lodge

Sweet Dreams Pet Lodge

Sweet Dreams Pet Lodge is the brainchild of Megan McCunn and Lauren Martin, two animal-lovers who plan to provide pet boarding, pet pampering and wellness services at an energy-efficient lodge. They envision offering pet daycare and play dates -- summer and winter camp -- in an innovative facility in Ebensburg with webcams and floors heated and cooled with geothermal energy.

McCunn is about to graduate with a major in agribusiness management and a minor in animal science. Martin is an agribusiness major. Their goal is to build a business people think of when they want to improve their pets' overall quality of life. Sweet Dreams would open in 2018 and offer 24-7 surveillance, CPR-certified staff, and a vet staff on call.

For video profiles of all Ag Springboard finalist teams and news from the finalist day -- including announcement of the winners -- watch here, or follow @psuaginnovation on Facebook or Twitter.