TeamNUST and their Hult Prize Journey

One of the most coveted startup-accelerator for university students around the world, The Hult Prize Foundation aspires young social entrepreneurs emerging from the world’s universities to share ideas that can solve some of the world’s fundamental social problems. Every year the foundation holds a competition in the associated universities and teams fiercely compete with each other to reach the finals held at New York where former President Bill Clinton selects the challenge topic and announces the winner each September.

Winning team receives a seed of USD 1 million and mentorship to launch and implement the start-up enterprise. The Prize is a partnership between Hult International Business School and the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI).

The Hult Prize runs:

  • hult@(s) at various universities all over the world. The teams compete at national level and qualify to participate in the regional rounds.
  • regional competitions in five cities around the world i.e. Boston, San Francisco, London, Dubai and Shanghai
  • summer accelerator (Regional winners move into an incubator for the months of July and August, 2015. The location of the incubator is in Boston, MA)
  • final pitch-off at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting.

The Hult Prize in Pakistan

The Hult Prize competition for 2016 was held in hult@Nust with 75 teams hailing from all over Pakistan. From them, TeamLyon (Now known as TeamNust) – a four group member team won and qualified for competing in the 7th Annual Hult Prize Regional Final held in Dubai in mid-March.

TeamNust’s project aimed at providing low-cost food to inhabitants living in crowded urban areas

The team was eventually selected from amongst 25,000 international applications and was to compete at Global Final hosted by President Bill Clinton in New York City. And though they did not win the Global Finals, it was an initiative that took the team far and wide, and showed the world that Pakistan also features world-class entrepreneurial talents.

The Journey

The journey began in mid-December named when the members of Team Lyon were selected to present their ideas to the judges in NUST. A total of 10 teams were selected for idea presentation from the 75 participating teams

The 4-member squad for Team Lyon are:

  • Qazi Umer Jamil
  • Usama Younus
  • Usman Ashraf
  • Maham Rashid

On 9th January, they qualified for Regional Rounds to be held in mid-March at Hult International Business School, Dubai. Within the available time span, the team got working on improvising the business model and supported their proposal with concrete research data and facts.

Finally, on 10th March, they were ready to present the proposal to the Hult prize challenge at Dubai where the team pitched the idea in front of a panel of international judges by the name of TeamNust.  They had a tough competition with 60 universities worldwide – including prestigious names as the  Cambridge University, London School of Economics, National University of Malaysia, University of Toronto and many others.

The panel of judges was professional and highly esteemed. They included:

  • Rehan Pathan Partner, Head of Middle-East and Malaysia Arabesque Partners,
  • Samih Toukan Chairman and CEO Jabbar Internet Group,
  • Muna AbuSulayman Media Personality and Social Responsibility Expert Directions,
  • Frederic Sicre Managing Director Abraaj Group,
  • Mahmood Al Bastaki CEO Dubai Trade, Ayman Arandi CEO Iris Solutions.

Basics of the Project

The 2016 Hult Prize “President’s Challenge” is Crowded Urban Spaces and focuses on economic inclusion. More specifically it is concerned with doubling the incomes of the residents who live in some of the toughest conditions in the world through improved mobility and increased connectivity to people, products, services and capital by 2022.  Therefore to qualify, teams have to come up with an idea that could equally meet these objectives.

The project proposed by TeamNust aimed at providing low-cost food to inhabitants living in crowded urban areas – a sight that is not rare in popular cities of the world. This proposal stemmed from the close observation of low-income people in urban areas struggling to get meals three times a day. Because their routine struggle for survival, these people though extremely talented are not able to contribute to the progress of society and therefore a great amount of talent goes wasted.

Since the goal is to provide hygienic food to low-income people, the following model was proposed:

  • The mess facility is aimed at providing low-cost food to local families. Food will be cooked in bulk utilizing economies of scale thus, cutting food expenditure costs up to 40%. With this food factor taken care of, women can be empowered to utilize their available time in learning new trades and contributing to the economy.
  • The delivery department will ensure quick and reliable delivery of food. This department will deliver cooked food, with an aim to provide hot lunches to thousands of people every day. The idea is to target inhabitants of an area, students, workers and laborers who have travelled from suburbs to urban areas for better opportunities.

Though the team could not secure the final trophy, their idea is all set to change the world. We hope they remain motivated to work on their enterprise and take it to a fully-functional business model, helping those in need.