BOSTON—With online crowd votes from Harvard Business School (HBS) alumni and current MBA students, the winners of the 2014 HBS alumni New Venture Competition have been crowned. The winner of the crowd-voted Most Innovative and Greatest Impact categories is York Street Partners, a boutique investment bank designed to drive Sri Lanka’s transformation. In the Best Investment category, which was judged by a panel of HBS alumni angel investors, Busbud, an intercity bus travel company, took the award. Each category carried a $25,000 prize.
With more than half of HBS alumni classifying themselves as entrepreneurs 10 to 15 years after they graduate from the School, the HBS New Venture Competition is designed to support both students and alumni on their entrepreneurial journey. Alumni pursuing new business and social-impact ventures participated in the alumni competition, which was hosted by 17 HBS alumni "hub" clubs around the world. The winning team from each regional competition entered the finals, which took place in early April through online crowd voting as well as judging by a panel of business experts. “Pitch videos” and profiles of each team were posted on YouTube for the competition audience to preview. Members of the two winning companies will be invited to attend the Rock 100 Entrepreneurs' Summit on campus in late April (hosted by Harvard Business School’s Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship) as well as present at the finals of the student New Venture Competition on April 29.
York Street Partners
Representing the Southeast Asia HBS clubs region, York Street Partners is a boutique investment bank run by Hiran Embuldeniya (MBA 2005), Nayana Mawilmada (MBA 2005) and Jayamin Pelpola (MBA 2010). The firm hopes to capitalize on the current development drive and rapid economic growth taking place in Sri Lanka.
Based in Colombo, York Street Partners was launched in 2011 with the aspiration of being a driver of capital market transformation in Sri Lanka. The YSP leadership team, comprising US-educated Sri Lankans, is united by a passion to support the country's post-conflict resurgence. While the investment banking market opportunity is estimated to be $75-100 million per year, the underlying goal for the firm is pioneering interventions in Sri Lanka that will help transform the nation.
In the past two years, York Street Partners has arranged the largest private equity investment in a non-banking financial institution and enabled one of the country's most prominent family-owned businesses to make its debut on the public capital markets. It also has developed the corporate strategy for the country's Urban Development Authority, made possible a $400 million investment in transforming the education sector of the country, and formulated development strategies for areas within former conflict zones. In 2014, York Street Partners will launch its asset management platform, and with it private equity, real estate, and fixed income funds—none of which currently exists in the Sri Lankan market. Future plans include exploring a venture capital fund and a crowd funding platform for local startups.
Busbud was cofounded and is led by L.P. Maurice (MBA 2008), representing the Canadian region of HBS Clubs. It is a mobile app that connects travelers to bus operators, allowing users to search, compare, and book intercity bus tickets anywhere in the world. On Busbud.com, users can search bus transportation options in more than 10,000 cities in 90 countries in 10 languages and 15 currencies.
Based on Maurice’s own travel experiences throughout Argentina and Peru, where he experienced many obstacles in booking bus travel, Busbud today, with 25 employees, is based in Montreal, with a second office in New York City. It raised $1.2 million in May 2013 from iNovia Capital, Real Ventures, and White Star Capital and has advisors from TripAdvisor, Google, Expedia, and Facebook. Busbud was named one of the "Top 20 Most Innovative Companies" in Canada twice in 2013 and has garnered more than 10 awards for innovation.
Busbud promotes its disruptive innovation as a way to free bus travelers from having to go to physical bus stations to buy tickets or plan their travel, while expanding their transportation options. It also views itself as a “green” business, because every bus on the road potentially replaces 50 cars.