- Who is eligible for the student competition?
Business Track: Participating teams require at least one Harvard Business School MBA student who plays a primary role in the business. The HBS student should either be a part of the founding team, a primary contributor, or a significant equity holder if equity has been distributed.
Social Enterprise Track: Teams must meet the two following criteria: 1) include at least one student who meets one of the criteria listed on our eligibility page; 2) be composed of a majority of Harvard University graduate students, and these members must have meaningful roles in the venture and the Competition presentation.
- How can I find teammates?
Both tracks hold Team Building Mixers in the fall. Additionally, see: Business Track Teams page and Social Enterprise Track Teams page.
- What are the advantages of registering early?
Teams who register early will have access to a variety of different resources.
Business track participants will have access to mentorship from Rock Center Entrepreneurs in Residence, legal advice and be eligible for funding to support experimentation and early exploration of their ideas (for those who apply by the February 5 early registration deadline). In addition, teams will also have the ability to participate in two rounds of Early Stage Feedback (deadlines: Nov 1 and Dec 11) from outside experts. Participants can view the Rock tools page for additional resources.
Social Enterprise will run a Workshop/Speaker series which will include "how to" seminars related to various aspects of business plan development, networking opportunities to speak with other entrepreneurs, and forums in which to test early new venture concepts and receive feedback. See the Calendar page for the full schedules. Participants can also visit the Social Enterprise Tools page to see additional track specific resources. Though not required, we also suggest that Social Enterprise Track teams participate in the Pitch for Change at the annual student-led Social Enterprise Conference, for practice and feedback at an important stage of the business plan process.
- Who are the judges? What are their backgrounds?
Business track judges will be drawn from a variety of backgrounds, including funders, founders, industry experts and executives, lawyers, , and other specialists deemed appropriate to understand the commercial viability of a business idea.
Social Enterprise track judges will be drawn from a variety of backgrounds representing a range of industries, including those from funding organizations (including impact investors, philanthropists, and venture philanthropists), capacity building organizations, and social entrepreneurs.
- How can I protect the confidentiality of intellectual property?
The HBS Honor Code applies to all participants of the 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. 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. 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.
The only individuals who will have access to the materials you submit (in addition to faculty and staff) will be the judges assigned to hear your pitch and review your plan. These judges regularly deal with confidential information in the course of their work. We ask them to treat your work product with the same care and respect for confidentiality. We also ask them to remove themselves from judging your plan if they do have a real conflict of interest. Feel free to mark your materials as "confidential" and to request that the judges give you back hard copies of anything that has been distributed. Note that the short description of your idea which you include with your entry form may be used in public documentation relating to the competition.
Note, however, that teams will be making final presentations to an open audience. Of course, technical drawings and formulae need not be shown at this presentation, or even included in your pitch decks, business plans, or executive summaries. All reasonable measures to ensure the protection of intellectual property introduced and associated with the Competition will be taken. Harvard University, Harvard Business School, and the organizers of the 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.