A social entrepreneur is a person who establishes an enterprise with the aim of solving social problems or bringing about social change. This was the heartbeat of the HULT Prize Regional Finals held on 17th March 2018. It was a quest to search for a group of young entrepreneurs with an idea that could save ten million lives.
We, Drainergy, were one of the sixty hopeful teams who qualified for this regional finals, hoping to change the world through the harnessing of energy. Held in MaGIC Cyberjaya, teams from various countries and continents, including Australia, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Taiwan, checked in on Friday (16th March) for an evening of briefings and reception. Many charismatic speeches and inspiring messages were delivered to us that day. People from all over the globe, here in Malaysia for a 6-minute pitch that could change the lives of many.
As representatives of MMU, we too, had our eyes on the prize. Being the conservative students that we were, we knew that the competition will be tough and had to pull off something really special. We planned to take things one step at the time, from our campus finals, then regionals, and hopefully to the global stage. To make things more complicated, all four of us had our final exam paper on the very day of the competition itself. We were grateful to the Hult Prize organisers and also to MMU’s Examination and Records Unit (ERU) for making the necessary adjustments to accommodate us. Their kind arrangements allowed us to pitch in the morning session of the competition, and then head over to MMU Cyberjaya to sit for our exam paper.
Preparing for the competition was tiring, difficult yet very fruitful. Continuing the idea of harnessing energy from drainage systems, we researched and made various improvements since our first pitch. We also prepared a prototype for clearer visual representation. A good pitch consists of both a good idea with solid information and an engaging presentation. We had to work on presenting our contents within 6 minutes in the best possible way. We arranged what to say and how to say it in a manner that would be interesting. Just like during the first stages of our campus finals, we had Ir Dr Ng Poh Kiat and Mr Jee Kian Siong guiding us throughout the whole preparation process. It was reassuring to say that this was indeed a team of six individuals instead of just four.
The format of competition required teams to be divided into six rooms. The top team from each room would then proceed to the next round which involves pitching live in front of everyone, including the twelve judges. Among these six teams, only one team will emerge victorious and would have to undertake an eight-week acceleration programme in The Castle (UK) before the final pitch at the UN.
On the day of the competition, our team was the first to present at 9 o’clock in the morning. We gave it our all, hoping that the judges would be moved by our passion and innovation. The six minutes of pitching and four minutes of Q&A felt just like a fleeting moment as we stepped down from the stage. After recollecting ourselves and considering everything that just happened, we felt satisfied. With our paper at 2.30 pm that day, we quickly found a quiet spot, pulled out our books and began to study. We clearly knew that yet another battle was awaiting us.
One thing occurred after another, and everything flew by so quickly. Before we knew it, it was already time to hand in our papers to the invigilators. With another check on our list, we headed back to MaGIC for the final round of the regional competition. One by one, the top six teams were called. We were truly impressed by their solutions to various social problems. Unfortunately, Drainergy did not make it to the subsequent round. We were actually placed second in our group. an achievement that was so close, yet so far! The winners of this regionals were from the International Islamic University of Malaysia, which meant that Malaysia would still be represented in the next round.
It was an amazing journey for us and we have everyone to thank for being a part of it. We were truly encouraged by the many different people that we met along the way. Meeting these people has nudged us to strive harder in whatever we do and to consider changing society along the way. MMU has also been extremely supportive, and this has made us even more proud to have represented MMU at a national stage. Our shout-out of thanks goes to our mentors, Dr Ng and Mr Jee for bring us this far. If you are a football fan, you would know that Guardiola is one of the best managers of all time, having led Barcelona, Bayern and now Manchester City to unbelievable success. We would like to think of Dr Ng and Mr Jee as our Guardiolas. Without them, we would just be a bunch of kids among the giants of the Hult Prize Regional Finals.
By Drainergy (previously a.k.a Yellow) team members
FET, MMU Melaka.