BOSTON—Teams of student entrepreneurs focused on stabilizing vaccines to allow safer and more reliable distribution worldwide, and streamlining the transition of patients from the hospital to post-acute care facilities, took first place at the Harvard Business School (HBS) Business Plan Contest held Tuesday (April 24) in Burden Auditorium. This year marked the 16th anniversary of the for-profit Business Venture Track and the 12th year of the Social Venture Track, which focuses on creating social value via nonprofit, for-profit, or hybrid-model plans. The capstone of the School's extensive Entrepreneurial Studies curriculum, the contest awards prizes totaling more than $150,000 in cash and in-kind services to the winners and runners-up in both tracks.
The Contest was open to all Harvard MBA candidates as well as eligible graduate students from around Harvard University. Eighty teams in the Business Venture Track and forty-nine in the Social Venture Track submitted plans to the 2012 Contest. Over time, more than 100 judges from fields such as venture capital, angel investing, consulting, law, accounting, life sciences, high technology, philanthropy, social entrepreneurship, and academia reduced the field to the total of eight finalists.
"There is an incredibly strong entrepreneurial spirit among HBS students, which is apparent in the innovative and socially-minded business ideas that are showcased through the Contest," said Dean Nitin Nohria.
The winner in the Business Venture Track was Vaxess Technologies, founded by HBS second-year MBA students Michael Schrader and Anura Patil, Harvard Kennedy School student Livio Valenti, Harvard Law School student Patrick Ho, Faculty of Arts & Sciences student Kathryn Kosuda, Isa Watson, and Matthew Olsofsky. Vaxess Technologies is working to commercialize a Tufts University technology that stabilizes vaccines into a thin film strip THAT can be shipped and stored without refrigeration. Vaxess strives to lower the cost of distribution and increase access to life-saving products for people around the world.
In the Social Venture Track, the winning team was eTransitions, founded by MD/MBA joint degree candidate Lissy Hu, Harvard Medical School student Jessica Hohman, incoming MBA student Kira Yugay, and Jonathan Helm. eTransitions is a web-based solution that streamlines the transition of patients from the hospital to post-acute care facilities.
Senior Lecturer Michael Roberts, Executive Director of the School's Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship, announced three runners-up in the Business Venture Track. They were (in alphabetical order):
- RallyPoint, founded by first-year student Aaron Kletzing and Yinon Weiss (MBA 2011), revolutionizes the way military professionals connect, develop, and pursue fulfilling opportunities throughout their military careers.
- SaferTaxi, founded by second-year student Jonathan Lo, provides a smartphone application that allows consumers in Latin America to book taxis with added convenience and transparency, aiming to bring greater efficiency and safety to the existing taxi booking process.
- Zumper, founded by second-year student Anthemos Georgiades, allows tenants to search for and close annual apartment leases in a much more transparent manner.
Laura Moon, Director of the School's Social Enterprise Initiative, announced the runner-up in the Social Venture Track:
- XinfuGo plans to build a disruptive base-of-pyramid (BOP) retail and distribution platform to deliver safe and effective essential products at a lower cost in rural China. The team is composed of second-year students Ying Chen and Yixin La and first-year student Qiwei (Gary) Shi.
Each winning team in the Business Venture Track was awarded $25,000 in cash and an equal amount of in-kind services, including work space in the Harvard Innovation Lab. They also received the Dubilier Prize, honoring the late Martin Dubilier (MBA 1952), cofounder of the prominent leveraged buyout firm of Clayton, Dubilier & Rice.
The runner-up teams in the Business Venture Track received $10,000 in cash and an equal amount of in-kind services, as well as the Satchu-Burgstone Entrepreneurship Award, endowed by Jon Burgstone (MBA 1999), Asif Satchu (MBA 1999), and Reza Satchu (MBA 1996) in 2001. After being named runners-up in the 1999 Contest, these alumni went on to achieve considerable commercial success with their plan for SupplierMarket.com, an online marketplace for buying and selling manufactured materials.
The winning team and the runner–up team in the Social Venture Ttrack were awarded the Peter M. Sacerdote Prizes—$25,000 in cash for the winner and $10,000 in cash for the runner–up. These prizes were established by Mr. Sacerdote (MBA 1964) in honor of his 40th reunion and the Campaign for the Harvard Business School to enable more HBS graduates to apply their skills to develop and launch social–purpose ventures. Both winners and runners up in this track also received matching amounts of in–kind services provided by The Bridgespan Group, a social enterprise consultancy, and the law firm of Foley Hoag. The winner of the Social Venture Track also receives work space in the Harvard Innovation Lab.
Also recognized during the event was Angela Newnam (MBA 1996), winner of the third annual Alumni New Venture Contest. Newnam is the founder of Knock out!, a line of high-performance undergarments for men and women bringing moisture-absorbing, odor-control properties to comfortable cotton products. Launched in 2011, Knock out! sold 20,000 units in its first year. Hosted by the Rock Center, the Alumni New Venture Contest shines a spotlight on graduates' enterprises, bringing to campus teams representing Harvard Business School Clubs from around the world. Newnam received a cash prize of $50,000.
In addition, Sidhant Jena (MBA 2011) CEO of Jana Care, was named the recipient of the 2012 Social Entrepreneurship Fellowship, designed to support recent HBS graduates who are creating ventures that focus on creating social value. Through a competitive selection process, the Fellowship supports recent graduates with a $25,000 award. Jana Care, an India-based new venture aims "to use technology to democratize diabetes management in the developing world." To accomplish this, Jana Care has developed a tiny attachment that transforms any mobile phone into a glucose monitor, allowing diabetes patients to test blood sugar and transmit results to their physician for feedback on diet, nutrition, and medication.
Past participants in the HBS Business Plan Contest have gone on to create many successful companies such as Cloudfare, which enables websites to intelligently protect themselves from online attacks; Finale, a Boston-area restaurant chain serving desserts and beverages; RelayRides, the world's first person-to-person car sharing service; Rent the Runway, which provides access to designer clothing at a fraction of the retail price; Diagnostic-For-All, a nonprofit enterprise that has developed a low-cost, paper-based "lab-on-a-chip" for diagnosing diseases in poor regions around the world; Global Citizen Year, which encourages students between high school and college to address the global challenges of the 21st century; Good Start Genetics, which is developing a low-cost, pre-pregnancy test for multiple genetic disorders; and New Leaders, a national nonprofit organization devoted to improving education for all children by attracting and preparing the next generation of outstanding leaders for urban public schools.
Run under the auspices of the Harvard Business School's Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship and the Social Enterprise Initiative, the HBS Business Plan Contest provides an integrative learning experience for all participants. The prime objectives of the Contest are to educate students in the process of creating and evaluating new business ventures, prepare them for opportunities in traditional and social entrepreneurship during their careers, and harness the unique resources that HBS offers.
The Rock Center was created through the generosity of prominent venture capitalist Arthur Rock (MBA 1951). In 2003, he donated $25 million to HBS to support the entrepreneurship faculty and their research, fellowships for MBA and doctoral students, symposia and conferences, and new outreach efforts to extend the impact of the School's extensive work in this field. To further contribute to its research and course development efforts, Harvard Business School also established the California Research Center in the heart of Silicon Valley in 1997.
Harvard Business School offered the country's first business school course in entrepreneurship in 1947. Today, members of the HBS Entrepreneurial Management Unit, which numbers more than 30 faculty, teach a required course to some 900 students in the first year of the MBA program along with a broad selection of popular elective courses to second-year students.
The United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship has recognized the Harvard Business School entrepreneurship program as the best in the country.
About the HBS Social Enterprise Initiative:
Since 1993, the HBS Social Enterprise Initiative (SEI) has applied innovative business practices and managerial disciplines to drive sustained, high-impact social change. The Social Enterprise Initiative acts as a catalyst for creating social value by serving as a focal point for the creativity and energy of its worldwide community. These efforts have manifested themselves in a number of areas, ranging from the participation of approximately 90 faculty members in social enterprise research and teaching to the creation of over 500 social enterprise cases and teaching notes. Courses that focus on social enterprise are embedded into the MBA curriculum and HBS Executive Education program offerings, reflecting a real-world blending of business and social issues. Beyond the classroom, the Initiative offers career development and community engagement programs designed to support students and alumni engaged in the social sector. For more information, visit: www.hbs.edu/socialenterprise/.