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Houston-area teen among finalists in nationwide contest to create business plan

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A bright young man from Montgomery County is headed to Omaha, Nebraska, this week as a finalist in a nationwide contest that challenges high school students to come up with a business plan. Though he may not have set out to reinvent the wheel, it's exactly what he did.

Fabian Fernandez-Han, 15, is not too young to be thinking about Third World problems.

"Water is such a huge problem. It affects so many people and it's a growing problem," he said.

So when he entered a nationwide contest for high schoolers called Grow Your Own Business, that's what he focused on, with a little prodding from his dad, Peter Han.

"I'm very proud that he chose to serve people that most people forget about, those who live on a dollar a day," Han said.

Fabian's idea is actually pretty simple: Using the energy of a turning bicycle wheel, the device would take bayou water and make it drinkable.

"On the outside there is an inner tube of a bicycle and an inner tube that is filled with water. So as the wheel turns like this, the water is pushed through the wheel," Fabian said.

As the rider pedals, the water is then pumped through a reverse osmosis membrane, leaving behind the dirt and, more importantly, the salt.

Fabian calls his product H20. One of his big selling points is it costs $100.

"In 21 days they can generate money through selling the clean water that they produce to other villagers, and with that money, they can pay off H20," he said.

The teenager didn't set out to reinvent the wheel, but he hopes to ride his invention to a win.

Dad and son travel to Omaha this week to meet with the judges, who include Warren Buffett. Winning, while important, is almost besides the point.

"People say why do that?" Han said. "Well, sometimes you want to, to make a better wheel."
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