Southeast Announces Hult Prize 2020 Challenge Winners


The winners of the inaugural Hult Prize Challenge at Southeast Missouri State University were announced at a Common Hour program Nov. 6.

This year’s challenge topic was “Bold Businesses for a Better Planet.” Participating teams, using the topic as inspiration, created startup businesses that have a positive impact on the planet with every sale completed, dollar earned and decision made. The Douglas C. Green Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship hosted the competition.

2020 winners are:

Chance Ziegler

First Place: “Hemptex”
“Hemptex” seeks to change the textile manufacturing industry by replacing cotton products with hemp counterparts, which have the potential to be a more affordable, environmentally friendly and sustainable solution. Hemptex aims to reduce and reverse the harmful effect that the manufacturing of consumer goods currently has on the environment.

  • Ethan Protzel, a senior entrepreneurship business administration major from Cape Girardeau, Missouri
  • Chance Ziegler, a first-year entrepreneurship business graduate student from Cape Girardeau

Joe Monke

Second Place: “HappyEarth”
“HappyEarth” is a mobile application proposal giving consumers the ability to scan product barcodes with their phones to learn about companies’ environmental ethics and the environmental impact of their manufacturing methods. The shopping data from consumers who used the app and viewed products would then be used to help companies adjust their manufacturing methods in response to consumer willingness to buy eco-friendly products.

  • Joe Monke a sophomore business administration major from Springfield, Illinois
  • Catherine Grzywa, a sophomore hospitality management major from Fenton, Missouri
  • Konner Fitzgerald, a junior corporate communication major from St. Charles, Missouri.

Presley Schleicher and Zachary Stow

Third Place: “Build Your Own Garden”
“Build Your Own Garden” was a proposed product that would replace conventional plastic planters that negatively impact the environment. It would allow consumers without garden space to plant vegetables while maintaining environmentally friendly practices.

  • Presley Schleicher, a senior human resources management major from O’Fallon, Missouri
  • Zachary Stow, a senior entrepreneurship business administration major from Pacific, Missouri
  • Alex Pueschel, a junior finance major from St. Peters, Missouri

This year’s challenge hosted six teams that presented to a panel of judges who scored the teams’ business pitches according to presentation and numerous factors pertinent to the challenge topic. The first place winner will advance directly to one of the Hult Prize Regional Summits held around the world in March 2020. They will then have a  chance to advance to the global finals in New York City to compete for $1 million to fund their startup business.

Additional competition information and updates are available at, Facebook at, and Instagram at @Hultprizesemo.

About the Hult Prize:

The Hult Prize, established by Bertil Hult, is an annual, year-long competition that crowd-sources ideas from MBA and college students after challenging them to solve a pressing social issue around topics such as food security, water access, energy and education.

The Hult Prize, in association with the United Nations, EF Education First and the Hult International Business School, is the world’s greatest engine for the creation of for-good, for-profit businesses emerging from universities. Southeast joins more than 2,000 universities and colleges from around the world to participate in the program.