Winners Announced for the 2021 Spark Bowl

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Xenoil, LLC, First Place 2021 Spark Bowl Winner
Credit: Delaware Valley University. First place winners from Xenoil, LLC, Anthony Prato and Rachel Hodgins, receive their Spark Bowl award. Xenoil, LLC, a U.S.-based manufacturing company, reduces plastic waste by creating products with recycled plastics.

The top three small businesses received checks to support their ideas at a “Shark-Tank”-like competition in Bucks County on April 15.  

Spark Bowl, a “Shark Tank”-like competition in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, brought finalists together to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges on Thursday, April 15.  The competition awarded thousands of dollars in funding to area small businesses.

Spark Bowl included five businesses, who pitched their ideas in Delaware Valley University’s Life Sciences Building auditorium. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a limited number of people attended the event, which was livestreamed for the general public. The 2021 Spark Bowl contestants represented a wide variety of industries including e-sportsanimal carebaby carehorticulture technology, and green manufacturing/renewable waste

The top three teams walked away with checks to support their ideas. Undergraduate business students from DelVal worked with the finalists as business consultants, helping them prepare to make their pitches to the judges. The top business received $12,000 and the top student consultant team received $3,000. Prizes were also awarded for the second- and third-place teams in both categories.

Spark Bowl is the outcome of a unique and innovative cooperation between The Central Bucks Chamber of Commerce and the Department of Business and Information Management here at the University,” said Dr. Tanya Casas, dean of DelVal’s School of Business and Humanities. “The competition helps local entrepreneurs have the support they need to innovate and grow and, gives our students at DelVal the valuable experience of working with start-ups.”

The 2021 Spark Bowl Winners :

Business Prizes

  • $12,000, First Prize, Xenoil, LLC (Anthony Prato and Rachel Hodgins)
  • $5,500, Second Prize, GrowFlux (Alexander Roscoe, Eric Eisele, Adi Rao, Schuyler Duffy)
  • $2,000, Third Prize, Pippy Sips (Amberlee Venti and Joseph Venti)

Student Consultant Prizes

  • $3,000, First Prize, Xenoil, LLCBridgette Schoultz and Javon Speid (Advisor Don Brown)
  • $2,000, Second Prize, GrowFluxDelaney Beaven, Mike Florig, Pat Lawler (Advisor Chris Wagner)   
  • $1,000, Third Prize, Pippy SipsDanielle Pape, Mark Christman, and Jonathan St. Hilaire (Advisors Russ Weiss and Adam Reinert) 

First place winners Anthony Prato and Rachel Hodgins said the business students they worked with were a pivotal part of their success in the competition.

“Spark Bowl was an amazing experience,” said Prato. “We’re happy to be part of entrepreneurship, especially in our local community.”

 Hodgins said they enjoyed working with DelVal students leading up to the competition.

“The students were pivotal in preparing research and their support leading up to the pitch was a big part of our success,” said Hodgins.

Bridgette Schoultz and Javon Speid, the DelVal students who worked with the winning company, gained valuable real-world experience in their field.

“Spark Bowl was a new experience for me and I liked getting to learn about a company,” said Schoultz, a sophomore business student at DelVal who helped the winning company prepare their pitch. “I want to have my own small business one day.”

The winner of the 2019 Spark Bowl, Tia Lyles-Williams, is the founder and CEO of LucasPye BIO, a biotechnology/ biopharmaceutical manufacturing company. She is continuing to grow her company and her ideas, which are focused on making pharmaceuticals more affordable. Lyles-Williams sent messages of encouragement to this year’s teams.

“Spark Bowl has definitely provided a springboard for us to get where we are,” Lyles-Williams told contestants in a recorded message for the 2021 competition. “It was a special opportunity for me and, was actually my first pitch competition.”

This year, Spark Bowl was able to offer substantial prizes thanks to the generosity of the local community.

“We’re grateful for the support of our community sponsors who generously donated to make this event possible,” said Bill Schutt, a DelVal trustee and event organizer.

The 2021 lead event sponsors are Michael Araten, of Sterling Ventures; Susan Lonergan, of Fulton Bank; DelVal Trustee Bill Schutt; Dr. Donna Marie De Carolis, of Drexel University; DelVal Trustee Kate Littlefield; and Robert and Pamela Byers. The Bucks County Herald is the official media sponsor of the 2021 Spark Bowl. The YMCA of Bucks County served as a community partner.

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