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ESU Students Compete in International Entrepreneurial Competition

Hult Prize

A team of four students from Kansas, China and Slovakia will move on to regional competition in the international Hult Prize competition. The team took first place in the OnCampus Hult competition at Emporia State University last month.

The Hult Prize is the world’s largest student entrepreneurial movement for social change and challenges students each year to develop entrepreneurial ventures that can solve world issues. Emporia State was the first college in the Midwest to host an on-campus qualifying competition that sends students to regionals in cities such as Boston, San Francisco, Mexico City, and more. This year, in the fourth year of ESU’s campus competition, they are one of fewer than 20 schools to host this prestigious opportunity for students in the Midwest.

The Hult Prize Challenge this year was “Food for Good” and challenged students to develop entrepreneurial ventures that challenges supply chains, food production, and the relationship between food and culture. During the ESU competition, 10 teams competed from students across campus. Students on the teams came from more than 12 countries and are studying more than 15 different academic majors, although the majority are majoring in business.

The first-place team, “Pocket Garden,” is composed of Connor Griffey of Norton (master of science in information technology)(MSIT), Erica Self of Topeka (master of business administration), Wenli Cui of Luoyang, Henan, China (master of business administration)

and Victoria Mackova of Nitra, Slovakia (graphic design), developed an idea to allow the new generation to play a gardening game on their phones and receive real produce in return.

Teams that did not place first are still able to submit their ideas to be considered for regionals by submitting a general application. The teams who choose to do this will be judged along with other teams from all over the world for the chance to advance to a regional competition.

The 2020 regional competitions were held virtually. Sites and plans for 2021 regional competition have not been announced. Winning teams from the regional rounds proceed to London in summer 2021 for the Accelerator when they develop their business ideas and meet with partners. The final competition is held at the United Nations Center in New York City, where the winning team receives $1 million to jump start their idea.

Directing the Hult Prize OnCampus competition at ESU were graduate students Carissa McAfee from Winchester and Farhan Sadique from India. While undergraduates, the two were part of the team that won the first ESU Hult competition in 2018 and proceeded to regional competition in Boston. A second ESU team that year competed in Mexico City.

The Hult Prize selects campus leaders during application rounds in June, July and August. The 2021 Challenge was announced during the summer of 2020 and OnCampus winning teams must be selected by Dec. 15.

McAfee and Sadique worked with Dr. Ed Bashaw, dean of ESU’s School of Business, plus Dr. Carol Lucy, assistant professor of business administration, and other business faculty to recruit campus teams. Judges for the campus round were Dr. Shawna Shane, associate professor in Health, Physical Education, and Recreation; Dr. Jasmine Linabary, assistant professor in communication and theatre; Dr. Bekah Selby, assistant professor in mathematics and economics; and Joyce French, ESU alum, Emporia business owner and member of the ESU Foundation board of trustees.

To learn more about Hult Prize, go to