Meet Nouh Salibo, a Medical Genetics student in his second year at Queen Mary. He talks to us about entering the Hult Prize and starting his own business, and shares his top tips for new students on how to make the most of their time at University.
I started my Medical Genetics course with a foundation year in September 2020. I have been at Queen Mary for around two years now. I am enjoying my course - my tutors are very helpful, and the course content is very relevant. I am seeking to obtain a career in Genome Editing (using human genomes to treat diseases) and I think Queen Mary are preparing me well for that through the course contents and task assessments.
The Hult Prize is a global competition where thousands of young people from colleges and universities around the world are encouraged to think big, be bold and work together to solve some of humanity’s biggest challenges and make the world a better place. This year the goal challenged students to come up with a business idea for those who lost their job due to the pandemic. The winning team have to beat over 1,000 highly competitive teams to win the final and receive $1m to make their idea a reality. There were over 100,000 teams from over 100 countries, and our team got to the semi-final at the Accelerator round.
It was a great experience and an amazing feeling to enter a global competition and our team was one of the top 20 business ideas in the world. I learnt so much from the experience about leadership, collaborating with a team, business development and how to make my ideas a reality.
I started to work as a security guard last year and it’s quite different from what I thought it would be. Business owners and security staff are suffering from several issues. The business owners are not getting the service they are paid for, security guards are not paid enough for the risks they can be exposed to, and the newly trained security guards sometimes find it difficult to get a job. However, the main thing that motivated me to come up with the idea was the suicide of a security guard who used to work in the same security company as me. The company did not pay some of us for over five months and the security guard who died by suicide was waiting for the payment for his mother’s operation in India, but she passed away before he could. It was very sad. I told my flatmate and we started chatting about how to improve the issues between companies and staff, and I came up with the idea of using an app to book security staff like you would book a taxi using Uber. I also found out that the Careers and Enterprise at Queen Mary run weekend courses about pitching a business idea.
So, my business idea is to provide a seamless connection between business owners and security staff by utilising digital tools to maximise convenience, trust and freedom – to solve all the problems that face business owners and security staff. I decided to build an app and call it Saliboo, as I thought it sounded cool like Amazon or Deliveroo. The app will allow clients to leave reviews, add notes on tasks and give live updates for incident reports while allowing security staff to set up their own rates, organise their own schedules and more. I’m also planning to train unemployed people as security staff and employ them through the app.
Sadly, we didn’t win the Hult Prize competition, but I am going ahead with the business idea using all the skills I learnt from the competition. Currently, I am trying to build an app template to test the idea and present it to investors. As well as this, I am going to apply for the fund that Queen Mary offers and plan to apply for the Hult Prize next year while building my own team.
I have a pretty normal day and week. I live on a boat with an amazing flatmate and am surrounded by lovely neighbours. I go to campus for most of my lectures and work part-time in the security industry. I spend most of my time on the boat as my friends love to come over to hang out, and in my spare time, I read books and watch YouTube videos to improve myself – lately, I have been reading and watching things about building development and apps. I volunteer at Rotaract Canary Wharf where I meet lots of lovely people, students and young professionals, spending some of my time helping the community.
Firstly, I would say congrats! You have been selected to one of the most diverse universities in the country - there’s not just diversity among the students, Queen Mary’s staff are very diverse too, from the lecturers to the first person you will meet at the entrance. Besides your course, there are so many opportunities that will help you to build yourself and help the community. If you are a results-driven person like me, you will enjoy your time at Queen Mary and develop yourself in all sorts of ways.
Here are some top tips for new students:
Last year I lived on campus and my favourite place was the canal, but this year was the Library as I spent most of my time there and the Curve too.
This is an interesting question; I am into acting and music and I consider those a bit unusual as a scientist.
The circumstances of the civil war in Sudan forced me to flee to the peace of the UK. When I came to the UK, I spoke very few words in English. I received lots of help along the way up to where I am now. The people who I would invite to my dream party are Dee Robinson, founder of the New Routes organisation, my mentor Aqilah Vilcasim, my friends Harmen Gudde and Sam Forsberg, my teachers Siobhan and Keven O’Connor, the entrepreneur adviser at Queen Mary Miriam Irungu, and finally my mum and my brother Ibrahim Salibo.