BOSTON—Amid flashing lights, twirling logos, upbeat music, and a montage video focusing on entrepreneurial activity at Harvard Business School, the Grand Finale of the 17th annual HBS New Venture Competition (NVC) (formerly known as the Business Plan Contest) took place on Tuesday afternoon (April 30) in Burden Auditorium before an audience filled with a mix of judges, investors, entrepreneurs, and prominent alumni as well as enthusiastic and supportive students, faculty, and staff.
The NVC includes both business and social enterprise tracks and awards more than $300,000 in cash and in-kind support to winning and runner-up student and alumni teams. The Competition is sponsored by the School’s Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship, the HBS Social Enterprise Initiative, and HBS Alumni Relations. The student competition is open to all Harvard MBA candidates and eligible graduate students from Harvard University. The alumni competition is open to entrants with a Harvard graduate on the founding team.
“If Harvard Business School is to be true to its mission of educating leaders who make a difference in the world, it must support the entrepreneurial spirit, which focuses on that very goal by solving problems and turning challenges into opportunities,” said HBS Dean Nitin Nohria.
The Grand Finale’s program included remarks by entrepreneurial finance expert Professor William A. Sahlman (MBA 1975), a 90-second pitch to the audience by the eight student finalists, a crowd vote that enabled the audience to choose their favorite team, and the announcement of the student and alumni prizes.
Winners within the student competition included:
Winners in the Alumni Competition included:
Monique Burns Thompson (MBA 1993), president of Teach Plus, and Steven Papa (MBA 1999), founder and CEO of Endeca, presented the student awards.
Alumni awards were given out by Lynn Thoman (MBA 1979), co-president of the Leon Lowenstein Foundation, and Jules Pieri (MBA 1986), founder and CEO of The Grommet.
The Competition began with more than 130 student teams earlier this year, ending with four finalists in each track. One hundred and twenty alumni teams participated, representing HBS Clubs and Associations from cities around the United States and countries around the world. Over time, some 150 judges took part, coming from fields such as venture capital, angel investing, consulting, law, accounting, life sciences, high technology, venture philanthropy, impact investing, social entrepreneurship, and academia.
With more than half of HBS alumni classifying themselves as entrepreneurs 10 to 15 years after graduating from the School, the New Venture Competition is designed to support students and alumni in the process of creating and evaluating new business and social-impact ventures.
Through the NVC, students and alumni pursue a highly inventive and disciplined journey – one that is anchored in a robust learning model and that enables participants to leverage a rich and unique array of educational resources, mentorships, and feedback opportunities to further the development of their ideas, including the Rock Accelerator, which provides funding for new ventures ready to go into the marketplace with a minimum viable product; workshops; and easy access to HBS faculty, Rock Center Entrepreneurs-in-Residence, partner law firms, and outside experts from the business and social enterprise sectors.
According to Laura Moon, Director of the School’s Social Enterprise Initiative, “The New Venture Competition is a vehicle for accelerating innovation for business and society. It is a journey that serves in many ways as a catalyst for both students and alumni, enabling them to pursue and develop ideas, while bringing together people from different backgrounds and with different levels of expertise to form cohesive teams.”
“This is an extraordinary time for entrepreneurship and innovation at Harvard Business School and the University at large,” said Meredith McPherron (MBA 1993), Director of the Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship. “It’s not just about launching new ventures; it’s an entrepreneurial mindset – the ability to see problems and solutions, whether in a disruptive new venture or in an established company.”
Founded in 1908 as part of Harvard University, Harvard Business School is located on a 40-acre campus in Boston. Its faculty of more than 200 offers full-time programs leading to the MBA and doctoral degrees, as well as more than 80 open enrollment Executive Education programs and more than 60 custom programs. For more than a century, HBS faculty have drawn on their research, their experience in working with organizations worldwide, and their passion for teaching to educate leaders who have shaped the practice of business and entrepreneurship around the globe.