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School of Business and Management

Leon Piclet, Member of Team Consciously Aware – Hult Prize Runners up – shares an account of his team’s journey


In September last year, while discussing the Qincubator programme with a friend from my course, we quickly realised the common aspects of our entrepreneurial projects and vision. When presented with the opportunity to take part in the Hult Prize, we both saw the potential in combining our environmental business ideas and working together to develop a concept.

We believed that our initial idea, intelligent recycling, was a very promising one, however, after a month of research it became clear that the chances of us succeeding were very low due to limited resources. After another month of research and brainstorming, as well as changing the original idea multiple times, we finally came up with a new concept that we thought had real potential to succeed. Once we were ready to fully commit our time and resources to it, we had only three weeks to put together a feasible plan that would attract the judges’ attention and get us through the first round.

We were passionate about making an impact in the world, and it created a sense of purpose in our daily life. We got the chance to apply theories that we had been learning at university to a project in the real world. The last few days before the in-campus round at Queen Mary, we had been focusing on perfecting our pitch and when the day came we were, although a little nervous, confident that the work of the past two months would pay off. To our great disappointment, the judges didn’t fully understand our process and focused on details we did not want to focus on and it resulted in us finishing second place. We couldn’t help but see this as a failure, however, it taught us that we had to work even harder to succeed.

After two months, thinking that the competition was over for us, Hult Prize got in touch to let us know that our project had been selected to participate in the Rio de Janeiro Regional finals after all. While very excited about the news, we knew we had to reassess the project. We realised that some aspects of it had to evolve and we needed a new team member, to bring a fresh perspective.

Following another month of working on the project, we decided to make a significant change. In order to further develop the new concept we had to travel to our pilot city, Cairo, however, in order to finance such a field trip, needed to secure sponsorship. We pitched our project to many companies and through our network we found the right company to sponsor our three-day trip to Cairo, which enabled us to keep going and come back with both highly valuable data and business deals. We are very much looking forward to competing in Tokyo in a few weeks, after the Rio final was cancelled and are determined to give our utmost best.

The Hult Prize has been an experience like no other, we have overcome obstacles and evolved as a team, which have given us invaluable knowledge for our future endeavours. We would like to thank the School of Business Management at Queen Mary University for supporting us to pursue our project and attend the Tokyo finals.