Dylan Shanaberger and Alex Dalton will compete in the 2020-2021 State System Startup Challenge.
Two Cal U students will compete in the 2020-2021 State System Startup Challenge Finals at 7 p.m. April 21.
Dylan Shanaberger and Alex Dalton will present their plan for Student Accessibility Unlimited at the virtual competition, which encourages students at the 14 universities in Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education to use their skills and imagination to create business ideas.
At stake is prize money of up to $10,000 to assist them in becoming entrepreneurs.
Visit https://ship.zoom.us/j/96366512551 to watch the finals.
Shanaberger, a senior business administration major with a concentration in marketing and a minor in management, has a genetic eye disease, a condition that inspired his business idea.
“I rely on screen readers to help me through my daily life,” Shanaberger said. “A lot of people don’t realize they exist, or they don’t design their websites with this technology in mind. You run into issues that aren’t just hazardous to your progress, but absolutely frustrating.”
Student Accessibility Unlimited helps to ensure that electronic and information technology, like websites, are accessible to people with disabilities. It identifies areas that are not and suggests solutions.
“I want to focus on education to start, but I do have plans to branch out to use the service for employers and private individuals,” Shanaberger said.
Dalton was a start-up challenge finalist in 2019-2020 with Shanaberger as an supporter and adviser. He is returning the favor this year.
“He was a big help to me last year with giving the college student perspective on financial literacy,” Dalton said. “This year, my role was to help him to refine his plan, provide any help he might need with his presentation, and help him work with any potential investors when the time comes."
The Center for Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship at Cal U, under the direction of Dr. Mark Lennon, assisted Shanaberger and Dalton, along with other students. In the past two years, the center sent aspiring entrepreneurs from Cal U to a conference at Shippensburg University aimed at idea generation and market testing.
“I told Dylan he could absolutely make a business out of this,” Lennon said. “And we’ve put him in touch with accessibility experts to learn more about what it’s like in the industry.”
Dalton, who is busy with the next stages in the development of his business after his success last year, has high hopes for Shanaberger’s idea.
“He has such a unique perspective on the world and this project specifically,” Dalton said. “There’s no one else at this competition who has this experience, so there’s no one better to comment on this than him.
“More than anything, he’s is a great person and an inspiration with the way he’s been able to get through everything without help in some cases. I’m honored to work with him.”