Mansfield University student team wins State System Startup Challenge


MANSFIELD, Pa. – Mansfield University’s student team took first place in the annual State System Startup Challenge for its Greenery Walls business idea.

PASSHE’s Startup Challenge is an opportunity for students attending one of the 14 state-owned universities to compete for prize money of up to $10,000 for their innovative ideas. Winners receive prize money to assist in making their dreams of becoming an entrepreneur come true.

The project was led by members of the Mansfield business student organization, Enactus, that included Sarah Hart (Wellsboro, Pa.), Evan Miller (Bellefonte, Pa.), Trent Smith (Northhampton, Pa.), Cross Kantz (Selinsgrove, Pa.), Brianna Roys (Port Allegany, Pa.), and Holden Meyers (Girardville, Pa.). The team was advised by MU faculty members Xiaoxuan Ji, Atika Benaddi, and Xia Zhou.

“Greenery Walls is a one-stop-shop for customers who desire a way to start their very own garden inside their home,” explained Hart. “Our all-inclusive package includes a wall-planter, installation materials, a packet of seeds, and potting soil. We will have the wall planters manufactured, then personally include all the other materials into a box to distribute to customers. Our mission is to help customers create the indoor gardens of their dreams.”

The team developed the concept of Greenery Walls at the start of the fall semester and prepared a short pitch for the opening round of the Challenge. Advancing to the 30-team second round in March, the Mounties created a business model canvas with details that helped shape the company. Mansfield was selected as one of just six finalists and prepared a five-minute pitch in April that brought everything together, including visualizations of the project. “All the hours of work led to our big first place win, and I could not be prouder of our team,” said Hart on winning the Challenge.

The Greenery Walls team also took first place in League 3 of the Early Stage Competition at the virtual Enactus United States National Exposition 2021. The National Exposition is an event where teams showcase the collective impact of their community outreach efforts. Students present projects and are evaluated by business leaders serving as judges.

“They are a group of talented and hard-working students,” said advisor Xiaoxuan Ji, PhD. “To promote a green lifestyle, they came up with this brilliant business idea to bring the garden indoors.

“They have applied what they’ve learned from business classes to the real world with passion and innovation. Most importantly, they all together have made this idea come true. I am excited about what the future holds for Greenery Walls.”

Learn more about the Mansfield University Business Administration program at