Georgetown Students Win Entrepreneurship Prize
Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q) students Alya Al-Hashemi (SFS ’17), AlMaha Al-Neama (SFS ’18) and Heeseung Nam (SFS ’17) were recognized for their fledgling online business at the recent Mubadara young entrepreneurs’ competition. The students, along with teammate Doaa Awad from Texas A&M University at Qatar, received an award for best social impact in the university category for their auction website.
The GU-Q students’ young business, Soom, aims to provide a bidding experience tailored for the Qatari market. Although initially focused on popular items such as unique car number plates and phone numbers, it envisions expanding to other items to become a local version of sites like eBay.
“Online auctions are becoming increasingly popular around the world, thus having a Qatari-based website that caters to the needs and wants of Qatari residents is what the market is missing,” explained Al-Neama. “I believe Soom won the best social impact award due to the many advantages that are linked with online auctioning. One is the convenience of the whole process since bidders and buyers can participate in the auction literally from anywhere at any time. It also saves plenty of time and money. Individuals do not have to travel to a physical location, but can log into their computer and become active in any bid they want.”
The Mubadara awards are an annual event run by INJAZ, an organization which aims to inspire the youth to succeed in the global economy. It brought together university and high school teams and gave them the opportunity to establish and run a business over five months. The teams then competed for funding, the chance to proceed to a regional round, and a spot in the Qatar Business Incubation Center’s Lean Startup program.
As part of the competition, Al-Hashemi, Al-Neama and Nam attended workshops, conducted market research, put together a business plan and a trade booth, and were interviewed by the judges. They also registered their business with local authorities and received mentorship from industry experts.
The students were drawn to the competition by curiosity about the world of business. “Entrepreneurship appealed to me… I don’t want to do a 9-5 desk job,” explained Al-Hashemi. “I wanted to see how this would work out and try something new.”
Al-Neama concurs. “I had an interest in business, but I never really knew if it was for me or if I’d be committed enough to open my own business,” she said. “So when I heard of INJAZ, I found the concept behind it very interesting. I believed that this would be a great kick-start for me as it would give me more insight and experience about the business world.”
Although the students are still studying full-time, they plan to continue to work on Soom’s design and development in the coming months.