Baleena and Sledge Scarves Take Home Awards at the Fifth Annual Pennovation Accelerator Pitch Day

On Wednesday, July 27th, the Pennovation Accelerator held their fifth annual Pitch Day at the Pennovation Center. The culminating event for the six-week program focused on business development. In case you missed it, you can find a recording of the event here.    

Each of the ten cohort companies presented a 5-minute pitch to an enthusiastic audience, followed by questions from a panel of judges:

  • Rick Genzer, Investment Director at Ben Franklin Technology Partners
  • Katie Ruether, Executive Director of Penn Health-Tech
  • Jenna Shanis, Partner at Robin Hood Ventures

At the conclusion of the ten pitches, the judges and Pennovation Accelerator review committee deliberated on the winners. In the meantime, the audience heard from Pennovation Accelerator Alumni Speaker, Josh Mastromatto, founder and CEO of REGO. REGO participated in the 2021 Accelerator and was named the Overall Winner at the 2021 Accelerator Virtual Pitch Day.

After the deliberation, the two winners were announced:

  • Baleena was named the overall 2022 Pennovation Accelerator Winner, based on engagement throughout the program, growth over the six weeks and the final pitch.  Baleena was awarded a $7,000 cash prize, Pennovation Center Resident Desk membership for six months (for up to 4 people), an Accounting Startup Package sponsored by Stephano Slack and Promotion at the PCIV @ Pennovation Center Showcase.

    Baleena works to provide a first-in-class, highly-efficient, low-cost microfiber trapping device used in consumers’ homes to reduce microplastic emissions at the point source— laundry.


  • Sledge Scarves won Best Pitch at the 2022 Pennovation Accelerator Pitch Day, based on scores provided by the panel of judges.  Sledge Scarves’ Best Pitch prize package includes a cash prize of $3,000, Pennovation Center Resident Desk membership for six months, an Accounting Startup Package sponsored by Stephano Slack and promotion at the PCIV @ Pennovation Center Showcase.

    Sledge Scarves produces non-slip satin head scarves designed to protect and maintain healthy hair growth. With the ability to withstand the pulling force of up to 15lbs, Sledge Scarves stay in place the entire night no matter how much you toss and turn.

Leading up to Pitch Day, the cohort participated in six weeks of programming to develop their business strategies and cultivate their networks.  With weekly workshops led by subject matter experts on Wednesday afternoons, followed by pitch practice and networking opportunities, the teams all made great strides in a short time developing their business strategies and refining their elevator pitches. 

The cohort learned from a variety of speakers and mentors across the Pennovation Works network, including:

  • Scott Fishman, CEO Envisage and angel investor with Robin Hood Ventures, on target market and competitive landscape analysis
  • Ann Cunningham, Managing Partner of i3 Strategy Partners and PCIV @ Pennovation Center Mentor-in-Resident on commercial model development
  • Emily Foote, Principal at Osage Venture Partners on fundraising and startup teams
  • Taylor Durham, Director of Marketing & Digital Studios for Venture Lab on branding and storytelling
  • A panel discussed ‘The Ask’ portion of a pitch with panelists
    • Brett Topche, Co-founder and Managing Director at Red & Blue Ventures
    • Roze McDevitt, Venture Capital Analyst at Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania
    • Saif Khawaja, Founder at Shinkei Systems, Pennovation Accelerator ’21 –Best Pitch Award winner
    • Josh Mastromatto, Founder and CEO at REGO, Pennovation Accelerator ’21 – Overall Winner

In preparation for Pitch Day, the cohort companies had the opportunity to each join a virtual pitch practice session to receive feedback and workshop their five-minute pitch.  The pitch practice sessions were co-hosted by PCIV @ Pennovation Center Mentors-in-Residence, Tom Crowley, Lisa Wittmer, Ruby Chandy, and Sofija Jovic along with PCI Ventures portfolio managers Bhavana Mohanraj and Mike Dishowitz.  

For a full list of mentors who supported the program, check out our Pitch Day program! We are tremendously grateful for everyone involved, very proud of the cohort’s progress, and cannot wait to continue to support the growth of these ten companies.  Check back later this month for a link to the full recording of the 2022 Pennovation Accelerator Pitch Day.

Pennovation Accelerator Summer 2022 Pitch Day and Cohort Members