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U of T's Team Vicis heads to Hult Prize regionals with e-commerce for street vendors

Tricia Jose: “We are capable of making a change in the world today, right here and right now”

Christopher Villegas-Cho, Adam Day, Tricia Jose, David St. Bernard

Team Attollo, meet Team Vicis.

Team Attollo, winner of the first U of T Hult regional prize competition in December 2014, went on to the world finals of the highly competitive global social entrepreneurship event.

Read about Team Attollo’s path to the finals

Team Vicis, which won the second U of T Hult competition last weekend, is hoping to follow in Attollo's footsteps after beating 14 other U of T teams to earn a spot in the Hult regional rounds in March 2016.

In the Hult Prize competition, teams of students from around the world develop ideas for social enterprises to solve global challenges.

Learn more about social entrepreneurship at U of T

The theme of the 2016 challenge, co-sponsored by Hult International Business School and the Clinton Global Initiative, is Crowded Urban Spaces and will focus on economic inclusion, more specifically, doubling the incomes of the residents who live in some of the toughest conditions in the world through improved mobility and increased connectivity to people, products, services and capital by 2022.  

More than 20,000 university students participate in the challenge each year with only 300 teams making it to the regional rounds in Boston, San Francisco, London, Dubai and Shanghai. The winners of the regionals compete for the top prize of US$1 million in start-up funding, as well as mentorship and advice from the international business community.

Learn more about the Hult competition at U of T's Rotman School of Management

Team Vicis is composed of graduate students from across the university: Tricia Jose (MASc, Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering (IBBME), Adam Day (MBA, Rotman School of Management), David St. Bernard (JD/MBA - Rotman School of Management/Faculty of Law), and Chris Villegas-Cho (MGA - Munk School of Global Affairs).

U of T News spoke to Jose, the team leader, after the Vicis victory.

What does the name of your team, Vicis, signify?
Vicis is Latin for change. We chose this name to represent our team because we felt that to really promote effective change, we needed to dig deep into our roots (what's deeper than Latin?) and really understand how and where change comes about. Interestingly, nobody knows how to pronounce our team name. The old school Latin pronunciation is "wee-kis". Our team name is pronounced "vee-chee," hoping to breath a bit of new life to old concepts! 

What’s your project about?
At the heart of our project is connecting under-utilized people, goods, and capital while overcoming and reducing congested city roadways. In crowded urban spaces, there is large market inefficiency in connecting people to the opportunities they desire and need. Team Vicis aims to increase and connect demand for under-utilized/underemployed entrepreneurial individuals in order to avoid economic exclusion. Our solution offers street vendors, who are otherwise limited to face-to-face sales to passers-by, the opportunity to access an increased market through an e-commerce platform that can be coordinated from their end without Internet, simply by the use of the mobile phone they already have.

What motivated you to try for the Hult Prize?
All four of us are interested in pursuing entrepreneurship, international development, or some combination of the two following the completion of our respective programs. What drew us to Hult Prize is that it stood as a reminder of what we as students often lose sight of: that we are capable of making a change in the world today, right here and right now. Being in school should be a catalyst for that, not a barrier. The Hult Prize is an amazing opportunity to pursue what we love, and make a lasting difference while doing so. 

How did it feel to win the U of T event?
Honestly, there were so many great teams and ideas pitched that we just feel fortunate to have been part of such an amazing, inspiring event. We are really excited about being able to move onto the next round of the competition. We know that we have a lot of work ahead of us. 

Interested in entrepreneurship? Visit U of T's Banting & Best Centre for Innovation & Entrepreneurship