Penn State startup Phospholutions demonstrates product on White Course

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Penn State President Eric Barron joined providers of entrepreneurship resources in celebrating innovative Penn State startup Phospholutions on Thursday, May 18, at the Penn State Golf Courses in State College.

Phospholutions celebrated the first full-course application of its lead product, Rhizosorb, by thanking the people and organizations that have supported them during development, including the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), Pennsylvania Technical Assistance Program (PennTAP) and Invent Penn State. The company demonstrated for them how Rhizosorb is applied. This is a significant milestone for the startup, and the partnership with Penn State Golf Courses will provide the data needed to demonstrate the full value of the Rhizosorb product.

Hunter Swisher, CEO of Phospholutions, graduated from Penn State’s plant sciences program in the College of Agricultural Sciences in December 2016. As an undergraduate developing Phospholutions, Swisher participated in the Summer Founder’s Program, the TechCelerator and the accelerator at Happy Valley LaunchBox. He also received help from the SBDC.

“It’s an honor to perform our first full-course application on the home course of Penn State, who has the top turf grass management program in the U.S. and a leader in sustainability practices,” said Hunter Swisher, CEO of Phospholutions. “The management here has been incredible throughout our product development process.”

Swisher made the decision to start the company as a Penn State plant science undergraduate and aggressively pursued all resources available to entrepreneurs in Happy Valley. He went through three local business accelerators — The Summer Founders Program at Penn State, Happy Valley LaunchBox and the Ben Franklin TechCelerator. He also worked with the Small Business Development Center and the Penn State Law Entrepreneurship and IP clinics. He has won pitch competitions at each stage and now has a local investor to help him launch the company.

“For more than two years, we have worked toward this day. And thanks to Invent Penn State’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, led by President Barron, and the support of the local community, that day is here,” said Swisher.

Swisher was invited to the Board of Trustees and President's Tailgate to pitch Phospholutions and participated on a panel with U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson. He also pitched at the Invent Penn State Venture & IP Conference and won money from Inc U.

Invent Penn State and the Penn State alumni network have proven indispensable to Swisher. In order to test Rhizosorb in different regions and climates, Swisher reached out to Penn State alumni in Florida who allowed them to test their product on golf courses there. The newest member of the Phospholutions management team, Ben Nason, is also a Penn State graduate who recently finished interning with Happy Valley Launchbox.

It’s safe to say Swisher is a “super user” of community entrepreneurship resources, the Penn State alumni network, and the Invent Penn State initiative. The event demonstrated what can happen when entrepreneurs embrace “the ingenious power of partnership," which is the initiative’s tagline.

Rhizosorb was applied to the back nine holes of the Blue Course, three holes on the White Course, several tee boxes, practice areas and a few trouble spots on the course. The product is spread through an annual process called aeration, when a machine punches holes in the soil about the size of a dime then inserts the product mixed with sand back into the hole. The company expects to see results after two months.

“We are excited to work with Phospholutions," said Richard Pagett, superintendent of the Penn State Golf Courses. "The Penn State Golf Courses are a tremendous resource for the University to partner with startups and work with our world renowned turfgrass program. This particular project can help our goal to become a golf course for the future — one that is sustainable, environmentally friendly, requires less inputs and ultimately reduces expenses."

Throughout its time as a startup, Phospholutions has worked closely with Pagett. The partnership has been a win-win for all involved, since using Rhizosorb on the course advances sustainable turf management practices while solidifying Penn State’s turf management program as a leader in the field.

For more information about Phospholutions, visit www.phospholutions.com.

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Last Updated May 25, 2017