Cambodia-based team wins FHSU Entrepreneurial Challenge Competition

HAYS, Kan., Nov. 30, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A three-member team of students from the American University of Phenom Penn (AUPP) took home first-place honors and a $2,500 top prize in the 10th annual FHSU Entrepreneurial Challenge event at Fort Hays State University. Students Chanrattnak Mong, Seth Tharo Hour, and Techngoun Leang’s business plan titled “Watt Wise” offered an innovative solution to a pressing sustainability issue in Cambodia. “Watt Wise” is a proposed energy auditing web app that tracks electrical energy consumption, helping identify areas where energy is wasted so consumers can realize significant cost savings and reduce their overall carbon footprint.

The focus of the EPI²C Challenge, formerly known as Kansas Startup Weekend, has changed over the last several years from a pure entrepreneurial business competition to one that includes an additional focus on sustainability. The “Watt Wise” plan focused on two of the 17 Sustainability Goals set forth by the United Nations, including Goal #7: Affordable and Clean Energy and Goal #12: Responsible Consumption and Production.

According to AUPP business professor and “Watt Wise” team coach Olta Myslimi, “It was a truly transformative experience for the team, as it marked their first participation in a challenge organized by our partner universities. The process of coming up with an idea for the challenge demonstrated their innovative mindset and desire to develop solutions that address real issues in their communities.”

Second place in this year’s entrepreneurial challenge went to “Watt Spot,” an off-grid solar-powered charging station capable of self-sustained operations in relatively remote locations like parks and campgrounds. A “Watt Spot” charging station prototype was installed at FHSU in the spring of 2023.

An innovative and cost-effective water filtration solution for the livestock industry called BIA took home third-place honors.

“BargainBite,” an online hub for distributing unused restaurant food at a discount, was awarded the Founders Prize.  

This fall’s competition marked the tenth anniversary of FHSU’s annual entrepreneurial challenge, so EPI²C Challenge organizers placed great importance on expanding the opportunity to participate to students from the university’s partner institution in Cambodia. In addition to “Watt Wise,” two other teams from AUPP participated in this year’s competition.

 “FHSU is a global leader in international education and online learning and the first university in Kansas to integrate students from a range of nations, cultures, and time zones in a hands-on, entrepreneurial learning experience,” said EPI²C Challenge Coordinator and FHSU management instructor Henry Schwaller. “I see this as a great opportunity for all of our global partner institutions for our next event this spring.”

FHSU business professor Dr. Ed Vengruskie, who serves as a liaison between the FHSU Robbins College of Business and Entrepreneurship with AUPP, pointed to Profesor Myslimi as an essential element in the successes of the Cambodian teams.

“She was always there with her AUPP students throughout the late nights and early mornings and the 11-hour time difference,” Vengruskie said.

Myslimi credits the remarkable students she got to work with on this challenge.

“I am incredibly proud of their unwavering enthusiasm and proactive spirit in seizing opportunities for growth,” Myslimi said. “Despite the physical distance between our students and their fellow FHSU participants, they felt a strong sense of connection. Competing alongside their fellow FHSU peers made them feel like equals, fostering a sense of belonging that transcended geographical boundaries.”

2023 EPI²C Challenge Winners   

First Place ($2,500) 
Electricity Consumption Monitoring Web App 

  • Chanrattnak Mong 
  • Seth Tharo Hour 
  • Techngoun Leang 

Second Place ($1,500) 
Off-Grid Solar Powered Charging Station 

  • John Brody Groves 
  • Chelsie Rose 
  • Bryce Steffan 
  • Caleb Todd 
  • Menglin Yang 

Third Place ($1,000) 
Solar Powered Water Filter for Livestock 

  • Lincoln Myers 
  • Tyler Preisser 

Founder's Prize ($500) 
Restaurant App to Reduce Food Waste 

  • Irina Alphonso 
  • Matthew Figger 
  • Miguel Fermin 
  • Sokly Hour 
  • William Tice 

Coaches: Professor Olta Myslimi (AUPP) and Mr. David Kellam, Mr. Thomas Lippert, Dr. Mary Martin, Dr. Kunal Sevak, and Dr. Ed Vengrouskie 

Judges: Dr. Michael Martin (preliminary round), Mr. Brandon Prough, and Dr. Ed Vengrouskie

Sponsors: Fort Hays State University, Robbins College of Business and Entrepreneurship, and the Schwaller Foundation

Special Recognition: Professor Olta Myslimi and Dr. Ed Vengrouski for co-facilitating this event, as well as Esther Folorunso for coordinating technical equipment and logistics


Cambodia-based team wins FHSU Entrepreneurial Challenge Competition

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