HEC Startup Team Valiant in Hult Finals Showdown
The HEC students’ startup ProTeen competed valiantly for the coveted Hult Prize Global Finals on Saturday as one of six student startups devoted to youth employment vying for what its sponsor called “the largest student competition on earth”. ProTeen was beaten to the top prize of $1 million seed fund by winners Rutopia, from Mexico.
HEC students Alessandra Mantovani, Ludivine Berouard, Tommie Hooft, accompanied by ProTeen cofounder Boby Ogwang, staged a confident and slick presentation of their startup’s program for youth employment in Uganda in the Hult Prize final, who took place at the United Nations headquarters. The HEC trio then fielded probing questions from the jury with self-assurance that underlined their commitment an entrepreneurial spirit they hope to export throughout Africa. UN WebTV broadcast the two-hour competition live as it played out in front of a raucous audience and a jury comprised of senior figures from the development and diplomacy fields.
After over an hour of deliberation, former US President Bill Clinton led the jury outside the UN building for the award ceremony. “The judges are complaining about just how hard it is to choose a winner for this 10th edition,” the 42nd American leader said with his characteristic brand of humor before pointing to the four students from Monterrey, Mexico, representing Rutopia. The quartet had impressed the jury with their platform combining ecotourism and support for indigenous communities in the Central American nation, an initiative already saluted by the press.
Life-enriching Experience for ProTeen
Before announcing the winner’s name, Clinton invited students worldwide to participate in the 2020 Hult Prize competition. This time, he said, students are invited to focus their startups on economic projects tackling climate change.
On the eve of the 2019 UN showdown, HEC graduate Alessandra Mantovani summed up her team’s outlook: "We are optimistic about the finals, knowing that, whether or not we win, this will have been a life-enriching experience. Beyond the one million dollar prize, there is a high chance of us meeting people at the United Nations who can propel our business. We are open and looking forward to making the most of every interaction!"
The HEC students have enjoyed a remarkable 11 months developing ProTeen. The startup had already been cofounded by Ludivine Berouard during her gap year in Kampala. She developed the concept first in the school’s SASI program and then in HEC’s Launchpad accelerator program. The various stages of the Hult competition helped the team to articulate its presentation, reaching a climax at the UN on September 14. The entire HEC community congratulates their efforts, confident in the prospect that, win or not, their youth employment company will flourish.