Hult London Regional Finals
Post by Irene Laochaisri ’17
We were among sharks in London. The air was dripping with anticipation. Pulsing brains and passionate hearts kept all 200-something of us on edge, awaiting the catharsis of finally sharing our hard work with those who want to hear it most. Lena, Christina and I had prepared a presentation around the heart that is our business, one we spent 4 months preparing for scattered across New York, Boston, Bangkok and Berlin. Many 6:30 AM (or 12:30 AM depending on who you ask) Google Hangouts later, we were here with an idea we cared about deeply: as we swim through crowds of Cambridge University Ph.D. students and MBA graduates, our peers silently wonder what these three spunky undergrads think they have in them that got them this far.
Little did they know.
In November 2015, we three sat down in the Student Government Association office in Reynolds to brainstorm our answer to the prompt for Hult Prize 2016: Can we double the income of 10 million people living in crowded urban spaces by 2022, by better connecting people, goods, services and capital? Our business named Mook which means pearl in Thai was born out of this brainstorm session during finals week. Since then the business has started growing legs: over 10 stakeholder interviews, not placing in the Babson regionals, a working business plan, and a solid understanding of what we can contribute to Thailand’s food industry. Our passion for the idea led us to applying to the London regionals and come January 2016, becoming one of less than 1% of applicants who made it through to the regional final rounds across the world.
Fast forward to March, after plenty of conversations with our “competition” and late night, last minute changes to the pitch, we were standing in front of 7 reputable judges who know their craft and gave us 10 minutes to prove we did too. I was the sole presenter while Christina and Lena prepared rigorously for the Q&A session that followed. Later that night, while waiting to hear if Mook stood among London’s final six teams and after learning that we did not, the three of us were approached by at least 8 of our peers who watched us present who showered us with compliments about how much they appreciated our work. We had such fruitful discussions about opportunities for the idea to grow, what that might look like and potential partnerships we would need to form to realize these things.
The success of this weekend could have been winning the London regionals and making it to the global round. But success looked much different to what I initially envisioned: we proved that, with perseverance, quality work is still possible with geographical distance and time differences. We demonstrated Entrepreneurial Thought and Action in our collective ability to think fast, be swift and pivot around our idea, making morning of changes that reflected what judges were looking for without being sloppy. We strengthened our friendships by working together, introducing a new dimension to how we can contribute to each other’s growth personally and professionally through sharing an experience that pushed us to reinvent ourselves. London reinforced how well my Babson experience has prepared me for success, the kind of success that fills my heart from knowing I tried my best and learned as much I possibly could with an opportunity I had. Thank you to the Undergraduate Professional Accelerator Fund for this invaluable experience.