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Students compete in business plan challenge

June 09, 2008

Jay Golden, director of the National Center of Excellence for SMART Innovations and an assistant professor at ASU’s School of Sustainability, led a team of four ASU undergraduates to compete in the “Better Living Business Plan Challenge” sponsored by Wal-Mart April 18.

The sustainability competition, which took place at the company’s home office in Bentonville, Ark., was created to provide students from around the world with an opportunity to invent sustainable products or business solutions and present them to a panel of Wal-Mart executives, government officials, suppliers and environmental organizations.

Wal-Mart invited students from nine leading universities to submit business plans on topics ranging from clean air, water and soil, to energy-efficient and healthy products.

The ASU squad’s entry was Green Taxi Cab, Arizona’s first all-hybrid taxi service. The company was founded by ASU student Andrew Nelson, a supply chain management senior who received funding through ASU’s Edson Student Entrepreneurship Initiative. Other ASU team members included Jenna Schaefer, a junior in nonprofit management and leadership; Jonathon Cooper, a junior in journalism and Barrett, the Honors College; and Calvin Bovee, a junior in management.

The ASU team earned $1,000 for its efforts, which included praise from the judges for having the best presentation and being the best prepared in responding to very difficult questioning. The $20,000 top prize in the competition was awarded to a team from the University of Michigan.

“Being invited as one of a select group of leading academic institutions focused on bridging sustainability and entrepreneurship was an honor for our faculty and students,” Golden says. “The Green Taxi Cab excelled in the competition because the business model encapsulates the true meaning of sustainability. It’s that rare kind of business that has the potential to completely revolutionize an industry in a very positive way.”

For more information on the Green Taxi Cab, visit the Web site