How We Reached the Semifinals of 2023 Hult Prize Competition

Building a sustainable fashion marketplace on the international stage

"Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life." – Amy Poehler

Our experience with the 2023 Hult Prize Competition can be summed up by Emmy-award winning actress Amy Poehler’s quote. 

We were three strangers connected by a common thread as UC Davis Online MBA students, who came together to work on an idea that inspired us. 

Hult Prize is the world's largest student social entrepreneurship competition where students from across the globe present their ideas contributing to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

Networking Leads to Teambuilding

The theme of this year’s Hult Prize Competition was "Redesigning Fashion in a Sustainable way." Our idea, EcoEvolve, stemmed from our difficult shopping experiences which inspired us to make it easier for anyone who has shared the same frustrations. 

We felt there was a need to connect the customer to the various eco-friendly options available in the market. This gave birth to EcoEvolve. Our idea is to provide an eco-friendly fashion marketplace to our customers where we would only deliver value and foster sustainable future growth, leading to social and economic improvements in the community.

First, Faye Wu met Kritika Singh over coffee, where they talked about participating in the Hult Prize Competition. Later, Kritika invited Amita to join the team. 

When we first met, the three of us were in different cities and had never worked together. Despite the physical distance, we collaborated virtually and advanced to the top 15% of the 20,000+ Hult Prize participating entrepreneurs globally, and became a semifinalist.  

Sprint Planning = Divide and Conquer Tasks

Faye Wu, Amita Nair and Kritika Singh sitting at a desk
Amita Nair, Kritika Singh and Faye Wu collaborated to create EcoEvolve, an eco-friendly fashion marketplace, for the Hult Prize Competition.

Trusting each other and being open-minded was the key to our success. The three of us collaborated to make all the decisions for EcoEvolve. 

We used the sprint method to complete all the project milestones. We had countless brainstorming meetings to fine tune all the details of EcoEvolve, including the business model, revenue model, go-to-market strategy and value proposition.

We then each took home tasks to complete before the next meeting. As the team captain, Faye led the team to set sprint goals, create action plans, update the project backlog and follow up on all progress. Kritika focused on the user experience, research and development and competitor analysis. Amita's role was to configure the technologies and major operational facilitations to make the cross-region project actionable. 

Each of us brought our strengths and experiences to this project. For example, Kritika’s innovative mindset would better connect and inspire our audience via storytelling. Faye applied her approach to fashion industry knowledge to anything related to EcoEvolve’s product/services, such as identifying marketing positions, minimum viable product surveys and product launching strategies. Amita tied it all together by demonstrating EcoEvolve’s value proposition, and how it contributes to the United Nations’ sustainability goals. 

Collaborating Remotely Leads to Real-Life Success

We encountered many challenges during the competition, but we managed to sail through them. We were in different locations and time zones during some key phases of the project development. 

The UC Davis Online MBA program has prepared us well to exercise our time management skills, coordination, flexibility, and collaborating as global professionals. Virtual collaboration was not easy, but we made sure that it did not impact our work. 

We multitasked with our course work, professional and personal commitments. It made us realize that if there is zeal to work on an idea that inspires you, time management becomes easy. 

Having a chance to meet other semifinalists in Boston was an eye-opening experience. We connected with students from other top-ranked universities around the world and listened to their business ideas. 

The fact that all the semifinalists had a common goal to make the world a better place makes us all like allies than competitors.

A photo of a large group of participants of The Hult Prize Competition
The Hult Prize Competition challenges young people from around the world to solve the world’s most pressing issues through social entrepreneurship. Every year, one team receives $1M in funding for their winning solution. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Caryn Pang)

Winning the Opportunity of a Lifetime

While we did not make it to the finals, we earned an experience of a lifetime. It gave us an opportunity to present an idea on an international forum and meet talented individuals from all over the world. Each business idea presented during the Hult Prize Competition was both unique and thought provoking. Every individual on that stage is a winner because they have the determination to make this world a better place through their ideas.

We are immensely grateful to UC Davis Graduate School of Management for their support throughout this competition. Special thank you to Senior Assistant Dean for Student Affairs Amy Russell and Lecturers Brian Kennedy, Doy Charnsupharindr and Marc Lowe for their support and coaching our team.

Our journey would not have been possible without the encouragement of our great professors who guided us in every step of the way and instilled a sense of confidence in us.

Kritika Singh MBA 24 contributed to this blog.