KyPak Wins Student PITTchFEST 2018

Pitt-Johnstown

posted June 04, 2018


Pitt-Johnstown student Josh Hill receives the winning PITTchFEST Student Entrepreneurship Grand Award check from Pitt-Johnstown President Jem Spectar.

PITTchFEST ’18 was held as part of Johnstown’s 28th annual Showcase for Commerce on June 1, 2018. The event presented a means for local and regional entrepreneurs to present the very best ideas to potential investors and champions.

Josh Hill, a junior at Pitt-Johnstown, was Student Entrepreneurship Grand Award winner for KyPak, a gear pack designed for kayak fishermen.

“It feels good to win the money ($2,000), but it also feels good to be able to advance my product and go further with it,” said Hill of his design efforts that culminated with a pitch before a panel of judges. “Having the money will allow me to do more research – basically, being able to go out, design the product better and become a better entrepreneur in that sense.”

Pitt-Johnstown President Jem Spectar said the event is, in itself, a victory.

“This is how you build a strong community. You build a strong community when there’s creativity, when people are inspired to make things, when people are willing to invest their energy and talent to create something that could lead to jobs,” said Dr. Spectar. “Those are the things that would help revive our community and propel it to greater heights.”

Rick Truscello, a member of the Historic/Code Capture Team of Johnstown’s Vision 2025 revitalization initiative, sold the judges on sponsoring a series of three workshops designed to make owners of old, historic buildings in Johnstown aware of potential tax incentives and regulatory relief.

Runners-up in the social entrepreneurship category were Michael Schellhammer and Jessica Clifford, representing the Rivers Capture Team of the Vision 2025 initiative, which pitched the installation of a ramp to the river near the Moxham trailhead of the Jim Mayer Riverswalk Trail, arguing that it would promote river-based recreation and help erase negative perceptions of Johnstown’s rivers.

Celebrating its fifth year of promoting and investing in entrepreneurs, PITTchFEST is designed to award ideas and innovation that go beyond the traditional for-profit models and provide potentially significant and sustainable value in enhancing our economy and community. 

The judges for the social division of the competition were Amy Bradley, president and CEO, Cambria Regional Chamber of Commerce; Brad Burger, president and CEO, Goodwill of the Southern Alleghenies; Brad Clemenson, coordinator, Lift Johnstown; Kristen Majocha, associate professor of communications, Pitt-Johnstown; and Curt Davis, acting Johnstown’s city manager.

Judging the student division were Jerry Hudson, business adviser, Ben Franklin Technology Partners; Jim Huerth, president and CEO, AmeriServ Trust and Financial Services Co.; Gap Poborsky, founder and president, GapVax, Inc.; Ernest Petersen, senior vice president, AmeriServ Trust and Financial Services Co.; and Eber Verhovsek, owner and president, Eber HVAC, Inc.


The University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown was founded in 1927 and is the first and largest regional campus of the University of Pittsburgh. Pitt-Johnstown is recognized by the Princeton Review as a “Best in the Northeast” college, by G.I. Jobs as a “Military Friendly School,” and by Pennsylvania Business Central as a "Top 100 Organization.” The distinctive combination of Pitt-Johnstown’s people, programs, and place results in exceptional performance in preparing students for career and professional success. Pitt-Johnstown is the regional leader, educating for success in the Real World.