Business Track: All teams entered are eligible as long as they have at least one Harvard Business School MBA student.
Social Enterprise Track: All teams entered are eligible as long as they have at least one person who is: a) an HBS MBA student, b) a Harvard University Reynolds Foundation Fellow, or c) a full-time Harvard graduate student currently enrolled in the Social Entrepreneurship Collaboratory or the Entrepreneurship in the Social Sector course at KSG. Visit the Social Enterprise Track website for complete SE Track eligibility details.
Note that the Competition is designed for contemplated and embryonic businesses. That is, the judges do like to see that people are committed, and in some cases, students will have succeeded in raising seed capital, have a beta version of the site, etc. However, there is a difference between a new venture that is getting off the ground and an existing business, and the Competition is not designed for the latter.
Degree candidate students outside of HBS would need to find an HBS team organized by at least one HBS MBA student to join. This can be done by posting your interest in joining a team on the Team Building message board or attending the Team Building Mixer or other Competition event. Within the Social Enterprise Track only, Harvard University Reynolds Foundation Fellows and Harvard graduate student currently enrolled in the Social Entrepreneurship Collaboratory or the Entrepreneurship in the Social Sector course at the Kennedy School are also eligible to enter. Visit the SV Track website for complete SE Track eligibility details.
Contestants should check the Student New Venture Competition website regularly. Registered contestants will also receive emails from the Competition organizers. In addition, HBS students should check their myHBS page and the HBS Event Calendar for occasional event announcements. Direct questions may be addressed to the Competition organizers.
Both HBS students and non-students can find teams and/or team members at the annual Team Building Mixer. At the Mixer, you can network with prospective teammates and look for teams to join. Networking through the Harvard Innovation Lab is also encouraged.
Non-HBS students and entrepreneurs can also post their business idea on our Find a Team page.
We understand that your business idea may evolve and change over the course of the year as you work on it, note however, that for reimbursement purposes, only the idea submitted by the February deadline will be eligible for reimbursement. That is, if your idea pivots significantly after the February deadline, the new idea is considered a new entry and, as such, is not eligible for the reimbursement funding. The new idea may, however, continue on in the Competition and compete for the prize money.
We run a speaker series in conjunction with the Competition. This includes a series of practical "how to" seminars related to aspects of the business plan, networking opportunities to speak with other entrepreneurs and a forum in which to test early new venture concepts and receive feedback. See the Competition Calendar for the full schedule. Selected plans from previous Competition years are available in both on reserve in Baker Library (ask a librarian in the Stamps Reading Room) and in the Rock Center Student Resource Center (Rock 107).
The Competition offers the opportunity for teams to obtain reimbursement for up to $1,000 of eligible expenses that were legitimately incurred in the course of running experiments and test related to the development of new venture plans (
Eligible expenses include: purchased research reports, telephone calls required for research, hosting services for running a beta version of a website, software tools required to build a website or develop other aspects of the product/service, or other expenses related to testing or validation of core assumptions.
The following expenses are NOT eligible: travel, meals, photocopying, entertainment, survey/focus group/etc. incentives to a third party (such as gift cards or cash), or hardware or electronic items for team members.
The HBS Honor Code applies to all participants of the HBS New Venture Competition. If you feel that significant confidentiality issues will arise in the course of preparing your plan, you should have a thorough understanding worked out with your team members in advance. The Rock Center has created a document that may be used as the basis for a discussion and documenting of these issues. Additionally, if you are writing a Non-Disclosure Agreement and/or Assigning Intellectual Property, see this template for a sample NDA and this template for IP Assignment.
While every effort will be made to preserve the confidentiality of each submission, it is suggested that highly sensitive material be excluded from the entry if a team is concerned about the confidentiality of such material. Note, however, that finalist teams will be making brief presentations to an open audience. Of course, technical drawings and formulae need not be shown at this presentation, or even included in the business plan. All reasonable measures to ensure the protection of intellectual property introduced and associated with the Competition will been taken. Harvard University, Harvard Business School, and the organizers of the HBS New Venture Competition cannot take further responsibility to protect the intellectual property or other rights of the contestants. Protection of such rights is ultimately the responsibility of each Contestant. Contestants are urged to mark as "CONFIDENTIAL" any portion of their entries which they consider to be confidential.
First, the winning team for both the Business and Social Enterprise Tracks will receive $50,000 in cash (taxable) plus discounts on in-kind services*. One runner up, for each Track, will receive $25,000 in cash (taxable) plus discounts on in-kind services. For the Business Track, under the terms of prize funding, prize money checks can only be written to Harvard Business School students. For the SE Track, prize money checks can only be written to HBS students, Harvard University Reynolds Foundation Fellows or Harvard graduate student currently enrolled in the Social Entrepreneurship Collaboratory course at the Kennedy School.
Note that these awards are taxable, and that we must have your social security number before a check is cut. Each team winning a prize will have sole responsibility for deciding how to allocate or otherwise use its prize proceeds. The organizers of the Competition will not become involved, either voluntarily or by request, in a team's decision concerning the allocation or use of prize proceeds.
*Note that the in-kind services must be used by June 30 of the calendar year following the Competition.
Competitionjudges will be drawn from a variety of backgrounds, including venture capitalists, lawyers, accountants, HBS alumni, entrepreneurs, HBS faculty and other professional or specialists deemed necessary to understand the commercial viability of a business idea (e.g., product design specialists).