Alum wins $30K to develop training aid

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Alum wins $30K to develop training aid

Grove City College alumna Hannah Vaccaro ’18 took first place – and $30,000 – in this summer’s ACU Startup Madness entrepreneurship competition with an idea to make potty training fun.

Vaccaro won the top prize in the student business idea challenge with her pitch for PeeWee Packs, an innovative potty training aid that she and fellow Entrepreneurship major Ross Harrington ’17 conceived and began developing while earning their degrees from Grove City College.

PeeWee Packs are biodegradable, flushable blank sheets that caregivers put in a toilet bowl or urinal. The sheets change color and reveal images when children successfully use the toilet. According to Vaccaro, “using the toilet becomes an exciting game of surprise instead of the otherwise mundane task.”

The Startup Madness win provides the venture some financial fuel at the right time, Vaccaro said.  

“PeeWee Packs has moved from idea to me working full-time on the company. We are in the R&D phase but are definitely gaining momentum,” she said. Acceptance into a Pittsburgh Fellows pilot program called eFellows will allow Vaccaro to continue working on the startup full-time.

Grove City College was invited to participate in Startup Madness and Yvonne English ’97, executive director of the College’s Center for Entrepreneurship + Innovation, reached out to Vaccaro to pitch on behalf of her alma mater.

“She asked if I would represent Grove City College and I was honored,” Vaccaro said. “I never thought PeeWee Packs would get this far!”

Vaccaro credits faculty and staff of the Center and academic Department of Entrepreneurship for her training. “Through my classes, preparation in how to present and be prepared for business competitions such as this, Grove City could not have better equipped me for the competition,” she said.

ACU Startup Madness competitors are drawn from colleges and universities with 5,000 or fewer students. The virtual competition is organized by ACU-CEO, the primary student organization focused on entrepreneurship at Abilene (Texas) Christian University. In the early rounds teams competed remotely via written materials and video presentations. The final two rounds included live pitches and Q and A sessions with judges via online portals.

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