Awards & Events

Purpose Box Founders Win PSU Investment Contest

HERMITAGE, Pa. — With two wins at business competitions under their belt, the founders of Purpose: The Therapeutic Subscription Box LLC aim to double their company’s revenue by year’s end.

Ali Izzo and Holly Masters, co-CEOs of Purpose and graduates of the Penn State University Shenango occupational therapy assistant and human development and family studies programs, won $15,000 in funding on WPSU-TV’s “The Investment.”

The “Shark Tank”-style competition, hosted by the Pennsylvania Technical Assistance Program, or PennTAP, was taped April 6 and broadcast Thursday evening.

As part of the competition, Izzo and Masters competed against five student companies from across the commonwealth for up to $30,000 in funding. Their company is based at the Penn State Shenango innovation hub, VenturePoint at the eCentre@LindenPointe

The judges awarded Purpose the top prize, making the company the first winner from a Penn State University Commonwealth Campus.

“Purpose Therapy Box stood out during the video competition phase due to their passion, enthusiasm and commitment to solving a unique problem,” Tim Kerchinski, PennTAP innovation team lead, said in a news release. “It was a scalable solution, and they were already generating revenue at the time of the competition. Their ideas for expanding their product line and markets were also impressive.”

In April, Purpose was awarded a $15,000 grant and $1,000 in printing and other marketing opportunities through FedEx’s seventh annual Small Business Grant Contest.

“Winning ‘The Investment’ and the FedEx Small Business Grant has been truly incredible,” Masters says. “One year ago, Purpose was still in the launching phase. To see our business grow and what we have accomplished in a year has been humbling and extremely rewarding. This has given us further validation in Purpose’s mission and proves that hard work and passion pay off.”

Purpose plans to use the investment funds to grow through a targeted marketing campaign, Izzo says.

“We are in the process of redesigning our website to create a more personal experience for the customer by including a survey they can fill out about their older loved one so that we are able to personalize the box specifically to each person,” she continues. “We plan to expand our product line by having more personalized options for our boxes, so that each box can be tailored to a specific person.”

Additionally, the company is in the process of expanding its Sponsor a Senior Program throughout the country.

“Our projection for Purpose by year’s end is to ship to over half of the United States and to double our revenue,” Masters says. The co-CEOS also hope to develop strong relationships with medical distribution companies for product sourcing and to develop ties with senior care centers in Trumbull and Mahoning counties.

Izzo and Masters found out about PennTAP’s Inc.U competition through Georgia Macris, the entrepreneurship initiative coordinator at VenturePoint. They credit the support they received at VenturePoint as a significant contributing factor to their success.

This month, they were finalists in the Youngstown Business Incubator’s “Shark Tank” pitch competition.

“Participating in these various competitions has helped Purpose gain recognition outside of our local community,” Izzo says. “We have been able to pitch to investors and committees across the United States and advocate for older adults, sharing the importance of reminding our aging population that they have a Purpose.

“The Investment” television show is the culmination of the Inc.U Competition managed by PennTAP in partnership with Invent Penn State, Penn State Outreach, and the Penn State Commonwealth Campuses. The initiative is funded by a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration. Prizes were made possible from the support of Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central and Northern PA, Invent Penn State, and the College of Engineering.

“The Investment” can be viewed here.

Pictured: Holly Masters and Ali Izzo, founders of Purpose: The Therapeutic Subscription Box with Dr. Eric Barron, president of Penn State University.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.