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April 16, 2014
The Colorado State University student startup has continued its streak of success by winning $5,000 in the Walmart Better Living Business Plan Challenge on April 10.
Company founders Trang Tran and Tanmay Telang took third place at the competition held in Bentonville, Ark., going up against teams from MIT, Penn State, the Kellogg School of Management, and Rennselaer Polytechnic, among others. Trang and Tanmay will graduate in May with MBA's in Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise from the CSU College of Business.
Fargreen was among eight regional competition winners who took part in the seventh-annual Walmart Challenge, having won the southwest regional round in Santa Barbara, Calif. on Feb. 14. Fargreen also won the grand prize of $12,500 earlier this year at the University of Washington’s Global Enterprise Competition in Seattle.
The company’s mission is create a network of farmers who will grow the first branded gourmet mushrooms in Vietnam, using recycled rice straw as fertilizer. The system will not only give the farmers a profitable crop between rice harvests but also help improve rural air quality when the rice straw is no longer burned as waste.
Trang said the Walmart competition also resulted in some potentially useful networking for Fargreen.
“We’ve made some important contacts and had some good conversations with top heads of this corporation, which we believe will come in handy in the future,” she said. “The fact that we’re the only international team who’s doing work where Walmart has yet had any inherent interest or presence of influence made us really proud.
“It is very encouraging to see our effort being recognized and appreciated by people with different perspectives,” she added. “This certainly helps us build our traction and reputation for Fargreen to attract more funding and support.”
The Walmart Better Living Business Plan Challenge provides a forum for students to make their idea for a sustainable product or business solution a reality.
Fargreen presented to a panel of judges that included Walmart executives, suppliers and environmental organizations.
The company is among the 16 businesses competing for $20,000 on the Collegiate Track of the Blue Ocean Enterprises Challenge on May 2; the winner of that track has the opportunity to compete against an additional 16 established companies on May 24 for a top prize of $250,000 and a 12-month business mentorship with the executives of Blue Ocean Enterprises.
For more information or to register to attend or volunteer, go to the Blue Ocean Challenge page.