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Targum spotlight: U. Hult Prize chapter helps build future entrepreneurs, enact change

The Rutgers chapter of the Hult Prize brings students together to promote entrepreneurial ideas. – Photo by @hultprizeru / instagram

The Rutgers chapter of the Hult Prize is an on-campus student organization that invites students with socially conscious entrepreneurial ideas to participate in its annual pitch competition.

The chapter is affiliated with the Hult Prize competition, which hosts universities from around the world for a series of regional competitions and business accelerator programs. The winner of the final round of the competition receives a prize of $1 million to fund their entrepreneurial endeavor.

Parul Joshi, a Rutgers Business School senior and campus director of the Hult Prize's Rutgers chapter, said that students in the group build profitable and sustainable startup ventures throughout the year and pitch their business plans for an on-campus competition.

Although the competition is centered on business, the chapter recruits competitors from all schools at the University and aims to grow as a multidisciplinary organization, she said.

Joshi said that the Hult Prize selects a unique theme each year for teams and their startups to be aligned with. Ideas for themes originate from the United Nations' 17 Sustainable Development Goals such as climate action, clean water and sanitation and gender equality.

She said that the Hult Prize's Rutgers chapter was founded in 2014 to engage with the competition's mission of cultivating impactful leadership among students. In 2017, the chapter won the global $1 million prize with a startup named Roshni Rides, she said.

Roshni Rides was founded by four Rutgers Business School students to create a rickshaw ride-sharing service in Pakistan that enables refugees to travel to essential places, including hospitals, schools and food markets.

After winning the prize, the Roshni Rides team stayed in Pakistan for approximately five years to establish its operations and expand the startup until a larger company acquired it, Joshi said.

She said that last year, the chapter sent three teams with sustainable fashion startup ideas to regional competitions and received sponsorship support from fashion company Steve Madden. Rutgers was 1 of 5 universities nominated for the best program in North America as a result of its teams' strong performances and rankings, she said.

"We went to Paris for the global finals and the on-campus award ceremony, and even though we didn't win the award, it was still an incredibly inspiring experience," she said. "It's just like a big global network, and we're super excited to bring back all of our new findings and implement (them)."

Chloe Tirino, a Rutgers Business School sophomore and the chapter's deputy campus officer, said that she joined the organization to combine her professional aspirations and interest in sustainability.

She said that her favorite experience with the chapter was traveling to Paris last year for the global finals because she had the chance to interact with people from different countries and understand what influenced their startup ideas.

"It was super eye-opening because it is an international pitch competition, but you don't really get to see that kind of side until you're really communicating with those people," Tirino said. "There's a lot of other opportunities in other countries that maybe we have more developed here that they don't have yet."

She said that she is excited about this year's theme since it allows students to choose any sustainability goal for their startup and hopes to encourage Rutgers students to participate regardless of their background.

"You don't need to be a Nobel Peace Prize winner to make a change (with) sustainability," said Tirino. "It really just takes one action or step, whether that means you're coming up with a creative solution or if you're just actively contributing to being a better citizen of the world."

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