Hero Store is finalist in Entrepreneur 2013 contest

Holly Chan, a graduate student in the Department of Technology Leadership and Innovation, has been named a finalist in the College Entrepreneur category of the Entrepreneur of 2013 contest presented by The UPS Store.

Chan’s idea of a zero-waste grocery store, dubbed The Hero Store, is one of five finalists for this year’s award.

“After studying sustainability and the green movement as part of my graduate program, I decided to bridge that with my passion for natural food,” Chan said. “There is so much waste going into our landfills. One-third of it is just containers and packaging. I want to do something to reduce this statistic by eliminating packaging at the front end. The Hero Store would provide a different way to get the product to people.”

This passion for environmental initiatives kept Chan at Purdue after she earned her bachelor’s degree in 2012. Faced with a choice of a career in industry or two years of fostering sustainability within the College of Technology, she chose graduate studies in the college. In addition to her coursework, she works for Dean Gary Bertoline to improve the culture of sustainability within the College of Technology. (Read about the Project [Re]Green initiative).

Chan’s finalist status is great exposure for her project, which is still in the planning stages. She hopes the extra visibility will help her find great people to fill out her management team.

“Right now, the Hero Store is very much in the building-the-concept phase. We’re still molding it,” she said. “Entrepreneurs are sometimes protective of their ideas. I’m here to share my idea. I just want this to happen. And I would love to lead it in happening. It’s pretty critical.”

Her summer internship offered Chan additional perspectives in corporate sustainability. She secured an internship at Apple Inc., first for the office engineering team and second with Lisa Jackson, vice president for environmental initiatives and former EPA administrator.

Chan is one of five finalists in the contest. The public is able to vote for their choice (one vote per person) through September 17. The winner of the college category will receive, among other prizes, $5,000 in seed money to help launch their business idea.

To see Chan’s full business startup profile and video, visit entrepreneur.com/e2013college.

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