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Extraco Big Idea Challenge Recap

It has been said that an idea can change the world, and two Central Texas entrepreneurs are one step closer to making their idea a reality thanks to the Extraco Big Idea Challenge, a partnership between Extraco Banks and Start Up Waco.

Clay Springer, owner of HomeHarvest, won first place and took home $5,000 and six months of free co-working at Hustle. Devin Li and Jaja Chen, co-owners of Waco Bao, won second place and took home $2,500 and six months of co-working at Hustle.

HomeHarvest sells the GreenPod, a hydroponic growing system that allows customers to produce organic commodities for an ongoing revenue stream by selling the produce to an end consumer. HomeHarvest is a start-up incubating out of the entrepreneurship program at Rapoport Academy Public School and is a collaboration between capstone students, teachers and strategic community partners. HomeHarvest plans to put $2,500 toward paying the students and the remaining $2,500 toward building a prototype, due in summer 2019.

Waco Bao is a new concept led by Waco Cha owners, Devin Li and Jaja Chen. According to the Facebook page, Waco Bao “bridges cultures and builds community through authentic Chinese/Taiwanese food and drinks.” Waco Bao also started holding dumpling making classes for the first time in April to the Waco community and will hold a second class in June. Waco Bao will use the $2500 to purchase initial start-up equipment needed to launch Waco Bao at the Waco Downtown Farmers market by the end of 2019 or early spring 2020.

The pitch event capstoned the larger Waco Startup week that ran from April 23-25 and offered more than 25 free workshops, panels and events to Central Texas entrepreneurs. Startup weeks are held throughout the country as a way to celebrate entrepreneurship and rally together as a community, and Waco did not disappoint. More than 300 Central Texans attended panels and workshops on social media, social innovation and ideation and lean startup as well as pop-up events offering tacos and donuts.

The Big Idea Challenge will take place twice annually, with the second round beginning in fall 2019. Want to be notified when the fall Extraco Big Idea Challenge begins? Sign up for the Start Up Waco newsletter today! You can also visit startupwaco.com/events and follow @startupwaco on Instagram and like Start Up Waco on Facebook.

Judges (from left) Shane Turner of Turner Behringer Real Estate, Libby Cain of Extraco Banks and Fernando Arroyo of Dell Technology listen to a pitch during the Extraco Big Idea Challenge on April 25, 2019.

Devin Li, Jaja Chen and Clay Springer pose with their winning checks after the event.