Smith students Blake Carlton (1st Year MBA/MPP), Jessica Galimore (1st Year MBA), Masha Saunders (1st Year MBA) and Will Swaim (2nd Year MBA/MPP) ventured to Boston to represent the Smith School of Business at the regional finals of this year’s Hult Prize Competition over the weekend of March 1, 2013.
The Hult Prize is an annual international social entrepreneurship competition. It is centered around solving an issue facing impoverished populations around the globe and is supported by a partnership between The Clinton Global Initiative and The Hult Business School. The competition was an opportunity for the team and the Smith community to participate in one of the world’s largest student movements for social impact while contributing to a current global social challenge.
This year’s social challenge to be addressed throughout the competition is world hunger. Hundreds of business schools from all over the world applied to participate during the competition’s entry round. Based on their one-page proposal, the Smith team was selected as a regional finalist at the Boston location. Other regional locations included Dubai, London, Shanghai and San Francisco. The team that ultimately wins the multi-round competition will be awarded $1M to fund their project proposal.
Team Smith was pleased to discover that their initial proposal, focused mainly on private-public partnerships, positioned them well to address the case they faced at the regional competition. The case study, released to participants only after submitting their initial proposal, can be found here: http://www.hultprize.org/en/prize-2013/case-study/. For a list of team Smith’s competitors, please click here: http://www.hultprize.org/en/prize-2013/regional-finalists/.
Upon arriving in Boston, team Smith and the other regional finalists participated in Q&A sessions focused on the format of the competition and judges’ rubric, food security, and social entrepreneurship. After devoting the remainder of the evening and early hours of the following day to perfecting their business model and presentation, team Maryland presented their business plan before four judges.
After their assigned presentation time, team Smith took a break of just a few hours while they waited for the other eleven teams presenting in room “Atlantic” to finish their presentations. In the early evening, all contestants reconvened at the Museum of Science, located within walking distance of the Hult Business School. There, four teams were announced as the winners. From team Smith’s group, Harvard was declared the winner.
Each of the four selected teams did a second presentation of their business plan, this time in front of all sixteen judges. After all teams presented, the judges left the room for deliberation. The audience was entertained by the Berkeley College a cappella group Pitch Slapped until the judges returned. At that time, McGill University, located in Montreal, Canada was declared the winner. Their idea, involving the mass production of crickets for consumption, was certainly unique. Many applauded their willingness to present an idea that could have easily been considered too far-fetched. They will compete against the other regional finalists in New York City in September.
Despite their loss, the Smith team was excited by the opportunity to compete and represent the values of sustainability and social entrepreneurship, espoused by The Smith School of Business. They were particularly excited to utilize the business principles they learned throughout their first year in the MBA program to develop a business plan addressing a social issue. Their participation in this competition served to both build their own skills and to promote the Smith brand. They were all pleased with their experience in Boston. Not only were they proud of their business plan and presentation, but they were thrilled with the educational, networking and fun experience they shared.