Kravis Lab Hosted On-Campus Round for International Hult Prize Social Innovation Competition
On December 6th, 2019, Kravis Lab for Social Impact hosted a competition for the Hult Prize international pitch competition. This on-campus round was open to students of all five Claremont Colleges. The Hult Prize is partnered with the United Nations and seeks to inspire young minds to use social innovation and entrepreneurship to solve the world’s most pressing issues. The Hult Prize operates on over 1500 university campuses in 121 countries.
For this year’s competition, the prompt was to “Build Bold Startups that have a Positive Impact on our Planet with Every Dollar Earned and Every Sale Made”, which relates to environmental sustainability, innovative sustainable technology, and creating awareness around sustainability.
The Forum sat down with the winning team from this year’s 5C Hult Prize competition. “Positive Charge” team members Elizabeth Song CMC ‘22, Ashley Wang CMC ‘22 and Hannah Zhang CMC ‘22 discussed their simple and innovative idea for an intermediary charging attachment that allows individuals to charge their device until it reaches 100% battery, and then stop charging to save the energy that would otherwise get wasted by overcharging. Their proposal paired this invention with an app that helps individuals track their energy usage to help them be more socially and environmentally conscious.
To come up with their winning idea, Positive Charge didn’t have to look far to find ways that people could be more environmentally conscious. “When we came up with the idea, we were really thinking about ourselves as college students and our own environment,” said Zhang. “We asked ourselves how we could take action to change the way we interact with technology.”
Wang spoke to how each team member’s different strengths and interests made it easy to split up tasks, thereby optimizing their team’s efficiency: “Elizabeth is an economics and computer science major, so she was in charge of thinking about the tech aspect and the coding for the app, while Hannah and I are the more business side,” she said.
In April, Positive Charge will travel to Melbourne, Australia to attend the regional round of the competition. “It’ll be a really cool experience because it’s so global,” said Song. “There will be teams there from all over the world.”
After the regional competition, approximately fifty winning teams from across the world will be invited to a 5-week summer accelerator program; from there, six teams will be selected to compete at the United Nations for the $1 million cash prize.
Positive Charge attributes much of their success to the mentorship they received at Kravis Lab’s Moonshot Fellowship last summer. This social innovation bootcamp program helped Positive Charge develop their idea and refine it into a realistic and clear pitch under the mentorship of accomplished social entrepreneurs.
“Confidence is key,” said Wang. “After so many iterations of the idea, we had a lot of confidence in our pitch. By the time the [Hult Prize] pitch happened, we were ready.”
For future 5C students interested in the Hult Prize Competition, Positive Charge offered some advice: “In terms of being prepared, you really need to focus on developing your idea,” said Zhang. “Go through several rounds. Bounce ideas off each other. In the early stages, focus less on implementation and more on the idea itself.”
“We were lucky to gel so much as a group and feel comfortable bouncing any idea off each other, even if it seemed out there,” Song added. “Start with the impossible first, and see how you can make it possible.”