Category Archives: Millennials

Aurelion: Going Global from Tunisia

I had the opportunity to interview Ghofrane Baaziz, from the University of Tunis Business School. Her story is amazing- she competed in and won the Campus Challenge in 2017, with teammates Sarah Saadi, Wafa Kouni, and Baha Gritly. The 2017 challenge was her favorite, and her team name was Eirene, named after the goddess of peace in honor of the challenge being about refugees. The team’s goal that year was to provide a virtual financial services platform for refugees to allow them to perform financial transactions, getting paid easily and securely. She has been involved in at least three regional events and was even asked to lead the Tunisia National event.

Ghofrane’s story shows an important lesson- you don’t have to win the Prize to be a winner.

Team: Aurelion

Origin: University of Tunis

Year: 2018

Hult Prize Challenge: Harnessing the power of energy to transform the lives of 10 million people.

Objective: Our idea consisted of providing access to better air conditioning systems in Central African hospitals while empowering working women.San Francisco Team hp2018

How did you get involved with Hult Prize?

Freshman year of college, that is, last year, although I was a business student, I did not know a thing about entrepreneurship let alone social entrepreneurship. I was just starting business school, not even sure if I made the right choice, but there it was, a pink sign on the school entrance that says “Hult Prize on-campus event applications are open!”. I didn’t know what that was, but it looked cool, and I was planning on doing a lot of extracurricular activities so that seemed like a nice start. I told three friends of mine and we decided to participate! Soon after, we’d learn so many things about ideation, starting a business, building a business model, etc. Little did we know that we would be the event winners and soon be heading to London for the regional finals! (I’ll get to that experience on the next question)

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Fast forward a year later, 2018, I decide not to participate, but to organize the event in my school. I took care of the media department and appeared on more than 12 media platforms including national television to talk about the Hult Prize! on 2017, only 4 Tunisian universities hosted a HP event, 2018, the number jumped to 19 universities! I’d like to believe it was thanks to us! I even toured many Tunisian universities in different regions of the country to introduce them to the Hult Prize and talk about my experience as a regional finalist!31899133_191299088160708_5296109574103760896_n.jpg

After the on-campus event ended, I decided to apply to the wildcard because why not! We ended up getting accepted and headed to San Francisco for my second regional two years in a row! Coming back to Tunis, I was also the media director and host for the Tunis regional that took place a week after SFs finals! That was my 3rd regional event in just two years of college! I believe I made a record!

My final involvement with Hult was the Tunisia National Event which I also helped organize.

How has this experience changed you?

I can’t put in words how much Hult has changed me. In each regional, I made new friends, real friends, a Japanese friend I made in London even visited me from Tokyo and we spent this spring break together touring Tunisia! Hult helped shape me into the woman I am today. I now know what it takes to be a social entrepreneur, what it takes to start your own business, I know how to network, how to pitch my idea and most importantly, I got to know and discover a new part of me.hult spirit.jpg

What were the judges, mentors and advisors like?

Everyone involved with Hult was extremely helpful. We were offered help from so many people. Judges in our on campus event last year offered to help us prepare for the regionals after we won, we had great mentors and advisors who supported us along the way.

Did anyone stand out?

Definitely! Last year’s event, a judge [Youssef Fennira, CEO of Tunisian startup CORP] liked our idea so much that he invited us to his office and with whom I’m personally still in touch with. He sponsored our trip to London, offered us support, and he still recommends me for other opportunities and even offered me a job at his company!SF Tunis .jpeg nationals bootcamp.jpg

During the 2018 hp, Julie Abrams definitely stood out! She was so cheerful and came to talk to us after we lost. We really appreciated that.

What advice do I have for other people?

Join the movement! I have been to so many similar events and competitions, nothing was like the hult prize. The Hult spirit and atmosphere is incomparable! You never know what kind of amazing friends you’d meet, whether it’s a local competition, national or regional! It’s never a dull moment with the Hult Prize! So participate, I promise you you’ll learn so many things about yourself and about social good. You’d enjoy every part of making an impact and making a difference in the world!

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SolarCare Journey, Everyone is a Winner

Team: SolarCare

City: Dallas, TX

Year: 2018                    

Hult Prize Challenge: Harnessing the power of energy to transform the lives of 10 million people.

Objective: Helping impoverished communities in Sub-Saharan Africa benefit from clean, affordable electricity in the form of solar energy

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At the convening of the United Nations on September 2017, President Bill Clinton announced the 2018 Hult Prize Challenge:  “Harnessing the power of energy to transform the lives of 10 million people by 2025”. Responding to the challenge, over 100,000 students from 1,000 Universities in 100 countries applied to bring their diverse energy-solution startup ideas to the international stage.  Ultimately, 40 teams will be selected to participate in the incubator at Hult Prize Castle, in Ashridge. Eventually six teams will get the opportunity to pitch their idea during finals at the United Nations, each hoping it will win the $1 million Hult Prize that will enable them to launch their idea.

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Each year, in addition to getting the prize money, the winning team gets well-deserved publicity for their project.  But what is less well known is how much of an impact the experience of competing for the Hult Prize creates. Excited by the ability to create positive global impact,  many teams that were eliminated at some point during the competition continue working on their projects, intent upon bringing their ideas to life. UT Dallas SolarCare was one of those teams.

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Eugene McDermott UT Dallas scholars Nikitha Vicas and Rohit Shenoy began their Hult Prize journey when they ventured from Dallas to travel to New York to attend the UN General assembly as student bloggers representing their school.  When they heard Clinton announce the Hult Prize, they were inspired to assemble a team for the competition, with Evan Sun and Benny Rubanov joining later.  Bradley Ritschel, UT Dallas’s Campus Director, played a major role in motivating the group in creating a viable product with his demonstrated interest in growing the Hult Prize’s influence on campus.  

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As a Dallas resident and member of the Dallas Entrepreneur Center’s advisory board, I had a special interest in seeing how the students benefited from the Hult experience. The team’s goal  was to provide clean, affordable and self-sustaining electricity to areas of the world that couldn’t otherwise afford it. The idea for SolarCare was born out of Rubanov’s research in solar panels and research conducted by the team.   It’s goal was to install small, solar farms in rural locations, supplying local areas with reliable electricity to power appliances.

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Simply by participating in the Hult Prize Challenge, they became part of an international community.  As a Hult Prize judge, I watched them deal with the challenges facing their business. Through their involvement with the competition, the team members gained the experience of being part of an international community determined to drive impact with the exposure to and support of international experts.   And it’s ignited a passion in each team member to explore how they can positive impact others in the future.

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This summer, Nikitha will be in India with the State Department’s Critical Language Scholarship, taking classes in Hindi. Rohit will work in Dallas with Tech Wildcatters, a group that invests in promising startups.  Benny plans to be in Argentina working in marketing and consulting, and Evan will be in Washington D.C., working with the HHS Innovation Internship Program. Each of them has clearer sense of who he is and a commitment to living lives of impact all over the world.  That’s what the Hult Prize does for students- inspiring a new generation of socially conscious, caring entrepreneurs.

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