“People are differentiated by how expensive their clothes are, but they should be differentiated by the quality of their thoughts,” said Ali El Azhary, mechanical engineering senior and a member of the winning team. “@Tweeshirt will give the chance for people to express their opinions, moods or dreams in their own special words, through Twitter. Our dream is to see people talking to strangers and trying to get to know them better just because they read their tweet and like, agree or disagree with the other person’s opinion. With our theme of Twitter products only, our motto is: Stop thinking about what to wear and start wearing what you think.”
Planned by the Entrepreneurs’ Society student organization and executed with the help of souq.com, The Hit competition engaged students in four stages to develop their novel products: idea generation, planning, branding and production. The runners up at each stage of the competition were chosen through a joint vote by a panel of expert judges and online voters. In addition to @Tweeshirt, other product ideas included Handicane, whereby walking canes for elderly people would be equipped with small slots that would serve a variety of purposes; a door lock with a four-digit pin code and SIM card that warns of possible intrusion; and Tupperware, which allows people to heat their food inside its container wherever they may be.
The competition began with 100 teams coming up with product ideas and submitting an executive summary to the judges for evaluation. From this group, 16 of the best teams were chosen to develop their ideas. “The 16 teams that developed their products during the competition had unique access to the eight judges, who are all successful entrepreneurs,” said Iman Seoudi, assistant professor in the Department of Management and faculty adviser for the Entrepreneurs’ Society. “The Hit is unique because most of the teams have the opportunity to develop their product, from branding to creating a prototype. All 16 teams will get a chance to sell their innovations on souq.com, not just the winning team.”
The 16 teams attended a workshop of business case writing and had the opportunity to take part in the branding round, where they learned how to develop a marketing campaign and brand their product. The top 10 teams then presented their brands to the judges. In the following round, each team was given LE 1,000 to build a prototype of its product, and the judges chose the top five.
“The competition was an amazing experience, from working with the judges to thinking practically about the development of our product,” said El Azhary. “Seeing the groups work hard to get the most out of their idea was very inspiring. It was something I had never seen in Egypt before.”
Yousef El Sammaa, construction engineering senior and chief executive officer of the Entrepreneurs’ Society, believes the value of the competition lies in giving contestants a chance to constantly raise the bar for themselves and gain practical real-life experience that would help them, whether or not they intend to work as entrepreneurs. “Creating and executing The Hit competition gave me a real sense of the concept of entrepreneurship, which is something that we as Egyptians need to embrace more during this coming period,” he said. “While we faced a lot of challenges, I learned from all of them. There is always a solution to any problem; you just have to keep thinking.”
For the judges, the students’ ideas and efforts were commendable. “The Hit is a very nice idea, and the first time is always the hardest,” said Don O’Connell, a judge in the competition who is the founder and chief executive officer of Aya Home Textiles. “I admire everybody’s effort and dedication. I do similar stuff in my life, and this is as good as any of them.”
Echoing the same sentiment, Omar Soudodi, general manager of souq.com, noted, “Egypt will be alright with these ideas and this energy.”
Each stage of the competition was filmed as a video episode. For more information on the competition and to view the videos, visit www.thehit2012.com.