Topeka, Kan. – Washburn University student and Topeka native Trevor Estrada is ready to make pristine lawn care accessible to everyone in Topeka. Estrada is the first-place winner of the 2024 Community Innovation Challenge, earning the grand prize of $7,000 for his business pitch, “Overgrown Yard Project.”

The competition encourages students to pitch an entrepreneurship idea that creates social and economic value to benefit the community. This can be an idea for a non-profit organization or a self-sustaining business that generates revenue while addressing a social issue. The Community Innovation Challenge was created by the Washburn University School of Business in partnership with the Topeka Community Foundation, which generously donated $25,000 for the top 10 entries. The winners receive the money to help make their ideas a reality.

“It feels amazing to win first-place. Now I will be able to create the app and get the business up and running,” said Estrada. 

Estrada is a finance major who was inspired to create his proposal based on his experience as a lawn care provider. The city of Topeka has called his business to ask if he could mow overgrown properties in the community. 

“I found out that property owners with overgrown lawns must pay a ticket on top of the price of a contractor. A lot of people can’t mow their lawns due to their age or health related issues. They may not have the money to pay for a ticket, let alone a contractor, or they would have paid for the service in the first place,” said Estrada.

To remedy this issue, Estrada reached out to the Kansas Department of Revenue to inquire about creating a tax credit for contractors who work on overgrown lawn jobs that are bid out by the city. His “Overgrown Yard Project” app would then allow city workers to post pictures of overgrown properties and choose local contractors to work on the job for free. Once the job is completed, the software tracks the dollar amount these contractors would normally charge for each service and sends a tax form with the total amount workers accrued over the year for a credit during tax season.

Other winners include:

2nd Place: Smera Shrestha, computer science and business major from Lalitpur, Nepal

3rd Place: Brooklyne Baird and Brooks Richardson, business majors from Salina, Kan.

4th Place: Rajeshwori Malla, computer science and business major from Kathmandu, Nepal, and Arnav Pokharel, computer science major from Kathmandu, Nepal

Marsha Pope, Topeka Community Foundation president, said, "The Topeka Community Foundation partnered with the Washburn University School of Business on this project to teach the next generation of entrepreneurs that a business has both a financial and social return. We are committed to making progress around the social determinants of health in our community. Providing funds to this project to support young leaders with great ideas is an investment in Topeka.”

Peyton Price, Washburn business major from Rossville, Kan., placed first in the 2023 Community Innovation Challenge for her “Kansas Community Consulting” idea, a service that helps companies take advantage of the state's Child Daycare Assistance Credit program. 

“The impact the competition has had on my life is huge. I am now the owner and founder of Kansas Community Consulting (KCC) and just launched my website April 1. My career path evolved into not just entrepreneurship, but entrepreneurship with positive social change on the world and those around me,” said Peyton Price. 

“The experience is undeniably positive for students. Besides learning about the concept of social entrepreneurship, students must research and work together with local community leaders to analyze their ideas, develop thorough written proposals, learn to present their ideas and network with some of Topeka’s most prominent business leaders to implement their pitch,” said Dr. David Price, associate professor of business marketing, Washburn University and Community Innovation Challenge event director.

David Price continued, “Students who take advantage of these valuable opportunities discover a new perspective of entrepreneurship and gain confidence in their ability to start a business. 

This is the second year of the Community Innovation Challenge. The event is open to Washburn University graduate and undergraduate students, including students at Washburn Institute of Technology (Washburn Tech).

“Our community has a strong group of leaders who support entrepreneurship. We hope the benefits of this event will be felt for many years to come as our students mix their own entrepreneurial vision with the needs of our community. It is a win-win,” said David Price.


For further information, contact:
Ellie Walker
Public Relations Specialist
Telephone: (785) 670-2154
Cell: (785) 224-7921
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