Winner announced in UPIKE’s inaugural Rubicon Rural Waste Innovation Challenge

The University of Pikeville (UPIKE) would like to congratulate Preston Poag (‘21) MBA (‘22) on being chosen as the winner of the inaugural Rubicon Rural Waste Innovation Challenge and being awarded $25,000.

Rubicon collaborated with the university by sponsoring the competition, inviting UPIKE students to submit concepts for solutions, products or programs to promote sustainable materials management on campus, in the community or the Appalachian region at large. A panel of experts selected Poag as the winner for his RecyclePod proposal demonstrating an innovative approach to eliminating waste.

Poag’s idea for RecyclePod targets rural communities lacking recycling infrastructure by using an advanced product design that connects to a loyalty app, incentivizing users to recycle. A mobility service platform connects drivers to recycling pickups and deliveries. The concept creates a platform for companies looking for recyclables and provides jobs for locals.  RecyclePod puts recycling in the hands of the everyday person and cuts out the need for large recycling infrastructure.

“It means a lot to be chosen as the winner of this competition,” said Poag. “I put a lot of work into RecyclePod. It is so fulfilling to see other people believe in my vision.”

Dean of UPIKE’s Coleman College of Business Howard Robert, Ed.D., is very proud of Poag and his accomplishments, crediting his creativity, original thinking and spirit of entrepreneurship with his success.

“The Rubicon sustainability competition, launched this year, gave collegiate entrepreneurs real-world experience to pitch their startups, enhance their business strategy and learn what it takes to launch a successful company. The plan written by Preston was in-depth and well developed,” said Roberts. “Preston’s accomplishment is incredible, yet not surprising. His innovative thinking, combined with his brilliant mind, are key factors for success in the field of entrepreneurship. We look forward to following his career, which will be filled with numerous awards and accolades.”  

UPIKE Provost Lori Werth, Ph.D., served on the judging panel that included distinguished academics, industry experts and public servants, each bringing unique perspectives and knowledge to the competition. 

“We are so proud of everyone who submitted an application this year. Ideas generated were creative, and the process was very competitive,” said Werth. “Preston Poag’s project and concept rose to the top as viable, innovative and would impact sustainability efforts.”

Becoming intrigued with Rubicon after hearing Chairman and CEO Nate Morris speak at commencement last year, Poag has continued to keep up with the company and was excited to see that they were tapping into Eastern Kentucky with this competition. 

“Companies like Rubicon are helping to educate the public on the importance of recycling. I hope that someone learns something about sustainability through my project,” said Poag. “I am grateful for the opportunity that Rubicon and UPIKE provided us.”