On Saturday, November 17, 2018, AUIS hosted its first campus round of the Hult Prize Competition, an annual entrepreneurship competition in which college and MBA students around the world present business plans to solve a pressing social issue. At each campus round, a panel of judges evaluates the campus round teams and selects a winning idea to move on to the regional round of the competition. From there, students compete for the chance to join a group of 50 teams at the Hult Castle accelerator program in London for six weeks over the summer. The final six teams from the accelerator pitch for a chance to win $1 million in seed capital for their startup.
In the weeks leading up to the campus round, AUIS teams crafted their ideas, drafted their business plans, and had the chance to receive informal mentoring and strategies from a pitching workshop to address the 2018 Hult Prize challenge: youth unemployment. By the day of the the campus round, 13 teams were ready to compete. Ideas ranged from online platforms for skills development and product delivery to the domestic manufacturing of agricultural products such as olive oil and tomatoes.
After a day of pitching, four finalist teams were selected to pitch to a panel of five judges that included Shady Atef, Hult Prize Iraq Director and co-founder of InnerG; Avin Mohammed, manager of Click company; Meeran Sarwar, CEO and co-founder of City Gym; Bayad Jamal, CEO of Bayad company; and Broosk Hamarash, CEO of Meta Solutions. The finalist teams included the following:
- F4: online service that connects employers to skilled youth seeking employment
- Olive Quest: business focused on cultivating olive plantations in Kirkuk to yield table-ready and commercial olive oil
- Dream Catalyst: delivery service for online businesses that connects buyers to products using on online payment and tracking system instead of cash on arrival
- Karsaz: agricultural community that focuses on maximizing the use of natural resources around Darbandikhan and Dukan dams
After a period of deliberation, the judges selected Team Olive Quest to advance to the regional round. Details of their participation are forthcoming.