A week and a half ago I had the opportunity to go to Dubai with three other teammates to compete in the Hult Prize competition for social enterprise startups. Since my team won the Hult Prize competition at Aston, we were then able to go to Dubai for the regional competition. The competition started with 20,000 applicant teams, with only 250 teams being invited to regionals.
We arrived in Dubai early Friday morning at about 2:00am. We then caught a taxi to our hotel and went to bed. The next morning we got up and went to explore the city a little before our competition started. We went to the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world and explored the mall and fountains around the area. We then went to the beach for a bit since it was a lot warmer there than in Birmingham! After relaxing a little at the beach, we then went back to the hotel to freshen up before we made our way to Hult International Business School for some instruction on the competition.
Once at Hult, we got a quick tour of the campus and then heard from three guest speakers. One of the most memorable speakers was the winner of the Hult Prize in 2013 and he gave some very candid advice on how to make the most out of our experience. After dinner, we were all free to mingle with the students from other schools. We were able to meet like-minded people from all over the world.
After networking, we then went back to our hotel and practiced our pitch late into the night. We had to turn our powerpoint slides in at 8:00am the next morning and be ready to pitch our business idea at a moments notice. After much practice, we finally went to bed feeling good about our presentation. The next morning, we got up early to practice a little more before making our way to the competition.
Once arriving at the competition, we got our schedule for the day. In the morning we sat in on seven pitches from other schools. The quality of the ideas and presentations were very good, but we still liked our chances. After lunch, it was our turn to give our pitch. We all were feeling nervous, but optimistic about our pitch. Coming out of our pitch, we felt that our presentation couldn’t have gone much better. We did feel a little nervous though because one of the judges asked a question that threw us off a little.
After dinner, the winner was announced. The winner ended up being a team from Toronto, Canada. Though we didn’t win, we were proud of our accomplishment and had all become good friends through the process. The judges told us we did very well, but were concerned with the scalability of our business model. Though we had very little sleep that weekend, I am very glad I had the opportunity to be involved in the Hult Prize. I was able to learn how to better control my nerves in high pressure situations and networked with loads of great people from around the world. I would highly recommend the Hult Prize for anyone interested in social entrepreneurship, anyone interested in joining or starting a startup, or anyone just looking for a great experience to enhance their CV.
Check out some pictures below that were taken while in Dubai.