Image courtesy of Hult Prize

Hult Prize

NYUAD takes on the 2019 Hult Prize Challenge.

Dec 8, 2018

This year marks the 10 year anniversary of the Hult Prize, an annual year-long competition that encourages entrepreneurial university students to rethink the future of business and develop environmentally and socially conscious solutions to pressing global issues. Each year, Bill Clinton, former President of the United States, announces a social challenge for the development of both nonprofit and for-profit startups emerging from the undergraduate academic sphere.
This year students were tasked to “build the foundations of a venture that will provide meaningful work for 10,000 youth within the next decade.”
Sponsored by the Hult International Business School, the United Nations and EF Education First, Hult Prize participants compete in teams of three to four people with the goal of making it to an 8-week summer incubator program called the Start-up Accelerator at the Hult Prize’s private castle in the U.K. Participating companies will have access to unparalleled mentoring and resources to grow their businesses to their full capacity.
Before teams can even qualify for the Start-up Accelerator, which only accepts the top 50 teams from around the world, their social enterprise and business plans must outcompete others at the general or school level and at the regional level. The competitive process gets more and more selective and rigorous as teams advance through multistage ladders. However, the Hult Prize does not end after teams are selected for the incubation program. In fact, the main goal of the Hult Prize is to be among the six teams selected to pitch in front of the United Nations General Assembly for the chance to win 3.5 million AED (a million U.S. dollars) in seed funding.
NYU Abu Dhabi hosts an annual campus final for the Hult Prize. The competition sends one winning team directly to the regional finals in Dubai and directs the two runners-up to the general admission process with a special consideration from the organising board at NYUAD. Students were encouraged to participate, and a total of eight teams made it to the finals this year. The final consisted of a six-minute pitch and four minutes of Q&A with the judges for each team. Sebastian Caro, Class of 2021, who was a participant in last year’s campus finals and is now a Campus Director of Hult Prize NYUAD, commented on his experiences with the organisation as well as the development of the event over the past two years.
“From our side I think that this event made it better because we were able to get judges that were actually in the industry. So for instance, last year judges were mostly professors or already business professionals in the corporate world, but the judges this time were entrepreneurs, were from venture capital, from the role that actually knows how to judge early state ideas.”
Mohamed Amine Belarbi, an NYUAD alumni and co-founder of the region’s fastest growing cyber company, Vul9 Security Solutions, was among the judges at this year’s campus final.
Caro also stressed the importance this year’s management team has placed on mentoring and coaching students on their individual concerns and business plans for the future.
“We could coach the teams more personally; we were more engaged with them. Last year ... they simply gave you some deadlines … you have to accomplish them … and that's it. But this year we really wanted the teams to accomplish the deadlines in the best way possible and if we could be a resource to help that’s the best,” said Caro.
In addition to the personal coaching of individuals like Caro and Julius Grüner, Class of 2021 and co-Campus Director of Hult Prize NYUAD, the management board also provided teams with personalized mentors from the corporate community in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. One such mentor was Dávid Korányi, Director of the Atlantic Council's Eurasian Energy Futures Initiative and Deputy Director of the Atlantic Council's Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center.
The winning team of this year’s Hult Prize competition at NYUAD was composed of Brian Shin and Alex Wuqi Zhang, both Class of 2021, Seongyoon Kim, Class of 2020 and Jagan Narayanan, Class of 2019. Their social enterprise idea, called Loveina, aims to work with teenage mothers in the Philippines to create handcrafted apparel and share their unique stories to raise awareness around the world. Kim sat down with The Gazelle on behalf of Loveina to discuss the motivations behind their business as well as its goals for the future and distinct take on global youth unemployment.
“We hope to use the power of fashion to do two things, one: really empower these teenage mothers and assist them in acquiring some of the skill sets that will help them work for us and also help them with advancement opportunities beyond our company. Also in the process of empowering them we hope that they would be empowered to the point that can really share their stories to the rest of the world through their designs,” said Kim.
As the champions of NYUAD’s campus finals, the Loveina team are now guaranteed a place in the next round of the multistage competition: the Hult Prize Regional Summit in Dubai. These Regional Finals are hosted in more than 25 different cities across the globe — including Amman, Bogotá, Singapore, Lagos and Mumbai — in efforts to provide just 5,000 innovative students with the opportunity to refine their business plans and present their solutions to youth unemployment while gaining unparalleled access to professional contacts in the field of business.
With over 100,000 students in competition for a spot at a global regional summit, Kim also spoke to the honor and importance of such recognition from judges and faculty here at the NYUAD Campus Finals.
Dylan Palladino is News Editor. Email him at
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