Hayden Smith, a Texas A&M University senior double majoring in economics and environmental geoscience, is in Atlanta this weekend for the Super Bowl. But he's not there to just watch football.
Smith was selected as one of five winners of PepsiCo's 2019 Game-Changers Competition, thanks to his business idea submission. Now the international company is showing Smith and the other four winners a behind-the-scenes look at the Super Bowl LIII Halftime Show -- and introducing them to some major company representatives.
Smith recently was featured by Texas A&M Today, where he described his passion for entrepreneurship, including his love for creative earning ever since he was a child. In 2017, as a junior at Texas A&M, Smith and two of his friends formed a holistic software application startup company.
In addition to business, Smith is passionate about environmentalism and said he hopes through any future business ventures he will be able to make an impact on preserving Earth for future generations.
"It's really for me a second nature," Smith said. "It's how I am. I am intrinsically connected to this planet. I'm a mountaineer, and I want people to be able to see all the things the planet has to offer."
In mid-2018, Smith was walking his dog when he was suddenly inspired with a unique business idea that he would eventually submit to PepsiCo's contest.
"Ideas can come at any time," he said Friday. "I'd read The Perennial Seller by Ryan Holiday and I had just started writing things down I can expand upon. Then, a month later, I saw the Pepsi challenge."
Smith saw an advertisement for the PepsiCo's 2019 Game-Changers Competition while on Instagram. He submitted an entry in time for the October deadline. Smith explained that the rules of the contest prevent him from disclosing any details of his business plan, but he can reveal that it would theoretically reduce the use of petroleum-based plastics in consumers' everyday grocery shopping. It would make Pepsi drinks more sustainable and would be compatible with the Pepsi production protocol as it already stands.
"You could integrate [my plan] into their system almost vertically, pretty seamlessly," he said.
Smith and the four other college students from across the nation were selected as winners, and were informed in December that they would be going to the Super Bowl. On Thursday, Smith and his fellow winners were flown to Atlanta for the all-expense-paid trip, where they've already toured PepsiCo facilities and networked with customers and members of the Pepsi corporation. On Sunday, they will be able to attend the Super Bowl and be given a behind-the-scenes look at the halftime show, according to the contest's website. The website also suggests that the winners may be offered a "dream job."
"Winning is the experience, but we would all love to have our ideas used by the company," Smith said.
In his Texas A&M Today profile, Smith said numerous Texas A&M entities have played a major part in his path to success. He credits several Aggie professors as well as the Texas A&M Mays Business School's McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship -- Startup Aggieland business incubator program. Smith expects to graduate in December and hopes to attend law school while also pursuing a joint master's degree in development or resource economics.
"I want to make an impact, in any way that I can," he is quoted as saying in Texas A&M Today. "Whether it's through changing the marketing and production of companies, or advocating sustainable policy, I'm all about it."