Janice K. Lee
$1 Million for Social Impact: Why You Should Join Hult Prize
Updated: Aug 24, 2020
My Experience as a Hult Prize competitor and now a Campus Director
What is the Hult Prize?
How I Got Involved (& my experience as a Competitor)
Why You Should Join Hult Prize
What is the Hult Prize?
Put simply, the Hult Prize is a movement for youth impact and social good.
It's a partnership with the United Nations and its SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), and a distinguished branch of one of the world's largest engines for the launch of for-good, for-profit startups. It's a movement with different phases: competitions, accelerators, festivals, and investment.
It's most known phase is the competition: the Hult Prize Challenge hosts a global competition every year with a theme, such as Education, Water Crisis, Energy, and etc. You can think of it as a "Nobel Peace Prize" for students, and the top winning team who makes it past 250,000 students from over 120 countries are granted one million dollars USD to propel their business. It's the perfect combination of Purpose and Profit!
How I Got Involved
My Experience as a Competitor
Fall 2019: The Competition Begins
I first got involved with Hult Prize at an Information Session as part of my Road to Silicon V/Alley Program, an entrepreneurship cohort at Rutgers University. All I knew at the time was that this was some "business competition" with a lot at stake. During the info session, I quickly realized that this was everything I ever hoped for in a competition- big ideas, big opportunities, and a chance to win a million dollars!
My team was a late bloomer. We joined in December, the month of the OnCampus Competition. While some teams had already gone through several workshops to perfect their ideas and pitches since September, my team didn't even have a cohesive idea! We pushed through the late nights, heavy research, and scrapping-and-recycling ideas and did our best to contribute despite our late arrival. We spent as much time as we could gathering around in our dorms to develop our business model and practice our pitch. By the time of the OnCampus competition in December, we spent the morning in our business attire running through our pitches and walking up to the business school while polishing our individual parts.
When we arrived at the Business School we had the opportunity to eat and mingle with the other teams, I would be lying if I wasn't impressed by everyone else's ideas. A lot of the day was mental and team preparation, and talking with my teammates and other teams to ease my nervousness. After giving our pitch, answering the Q&A, watching others' presentations, and waiting for the results, we were pleasantly surprised when they announced we ranked third! It made our all-nighters and hard work all worth it considering that we joined so late. This wasn't a guarantee that we would compete in one of the fifteen global Regionals, but it was a good start.
Spring 2020: Regionals, Revisions, and COVID-19
Not knowing much of what would happen after, I continued going to classes and took a short mental break from Moove (the name of our venture). That didn't last long, as the Campus Directors soon contacted us letting us know that we were eligible to compete in regionals— in Monterrey, Mexico! The second-place team was also able to compete in Regionals in Santo Domingo, and the first-place team in Toronto. This was when the real "fun" began. Since my team didn't have the opportunity to improve our ideas in workshops in the Fall Semester, we continued full steam ahead to revise and improve our business idea and pitch for March, the month of Regionals.
From January to February, my team attended as many workshops as we could. From getting feedback from Rutgers Professors in the industry, learning how to smile during our presentations (No, seriously. It's a huge game-changer that many teams fail to do due to nervousness) and even completely changing our business model, we were proactively seeking ways to improve our internal and external facets of Moove. One part of the process that eased the rigor was planning our trip to Mexico. Turns out, Hult Prize has an esteemed standing with Rutgers so most of the funding came from the Business School and they would reimburse students for anything that cost money. Meaning our airfares, hotel stay, and travel would be covered by our school.
When COVID hit and safety became a big concern, the trip was canceled but the competition was to take place virtually via 6-minute video submission. Despite the change in plans, my team still did our best to adapt to the virtual experience. With 70 teams competing in Regionals and only the Top 6 qualifying for a Q&A session, our team didn't make the cut. After signing up for Hult Prize's Impact Breaks, where we had the opportunity to pitch at the Dead Sea in Jordan, it was also canceled due to continuing safety precautions. Though looking back, I was so thankful for the experience, the learning, and my team and the Campus Directors for helping us out! It was one of the highlights from my Freshman year, and I'm beyond thankful to have participated.
All along the way, the Campus Directors at the time helped us and guided our progress, helping us with their prior experience of competing teams, constantly keeping us updated with new workshops, checking in with our progress, and assisting us with meetings with the Dean to help with competition logistics. My team and I would not have made it this far without them. So when I had the opportunity to be one of the Campus Directors for 2020-21, I couldn't say no. And with prior experience as a competitor, what better way to help future teams compete? Ever since stepping into my role as a Campus Director, I made it my goal to spread Hult Prize's awareness past just the business school, so even non-business majors can compete and have the same opportunity I did.
Why Should You Join Hult Prize?
Now you know my story. Where does that leave you?
If you are someone who wants to:
Make a social impact through business and profit
Train and develop your critical thinking, problem-solving, and business/hard skills
Meet and connect with like-minded student entrepreneurs and mentors
Have an opportunity of your lifetime
I say go for it! Even if you don't think you'll go far, you never know what will happen (just take my team as a good example) and you may be pleasantly surprised! Hult Prize is a whole ecosystem of open-minded, excited individuals passionate for a movement. There's a place for everyone who aligns with Hult Prize's mission of Leading a Generation to Change the World.
If you have any questions about Hult Prize, competing, or anything else, join our Discord or feel free to shoot an email at email@example.com. Thank you for reading!