First, you must form a team around an idea for a business. Participating teams require at least one Harvard Business School MBA student who plays a primary role in the business and is present at the Super Saturday judging. The HBS student should be a part of the founding team and a significant equity holder, if equity has been distributed. RC teams (i.e. any team with a first-year, RC, student) may not enter the Student New Venture Competition with the same idea used for their FIELD III project. You may participate on a maximum of 2 teams, regardless of track.

Key Steps & Deadlines

  1. Registration: Completion of the registration poll is required to officially enter the Competition. We urge you to enter ASAP to take advantage of a variety of workshops and mentoring leading up to the final Competition. To be eligible for the $1,000 reimbursement grant, you must enter by February 4, 2015 at 5:00 PM. No exceptions will be made for late reimbursement requests. *Note that we will accept plans from teams that have not filed an entry form poll by the above deadline. Teams may decide to participate in the Competition until shortly before plans are due. However, teams that do not submit an entry form poll by the February 4, 2015 deadline will not be eligible for the $1,000 Experimentation fund.
  2. Early-Stage Idea Feedback: To obtain early feedback on your new venture idea, we encourage you to apply to the Early-Stage Idea Feedback Program. There are two dates when you can receive early stage feedback. Deadline for submission is 12/11/2014. 
  3. Intent to Present: If you intend to present on Super Saturday, you will need to submit the intent to present poll by March 11, 2015 (poll will be available in early February). This is a binding contract and you will no longer be able to withdraw from the competition.
  4. FINAL PLAN SUBMISSION:To maintain eligibility in the Competition you must submit required hard copy deliverables for Super Saturday as outlined below. All elements must be complete and submitted on time and as described:
    • 1 Cover sheet 
    • 8 Copies of your team's Executive Summary ( max 2-3 pages)
    • 1 Copy of your slide deck presentation
    • Use standard 8.5 x 11" pages
    • Deliver all to Rock Center 107 by 5:00 PM on March 25, 2015. 
    • Finals judges use only your hardcopy deliverables to narrow the 10 semi-finalists down to 4 finalists, so your slide deck and executive summary must be able to stand on their own.
  5. FIRST ROUND JUDGINGAll business track teams will be invited to make live presentations to a panel of judges on Super Saturday, March 28, 2015. At this time ten semi-finalist teams will be chosen to advance to the next round in the Competition.
  6. SECOND ROUND JUDGING: The ten semi-finalists’ pitch decks will be distributed to a final judging panel of distinguished venture capitalists and entrepreneurs. On April 14, 2015, the semi-finalists will be narrowed down to four finalist teams based solely on their written submission (this semi-final round will not have a live presentation). The teams will move to the final judging round.
  7. FINAL JUDGING AND AWARDS PRESENTATION: On April 22, 2015, the four final teams will make their final presentations to a panel of judges at HBS. The winners of the Competition will be announced at the NVC Finale Event in Burden Hall on April 22, 2015 at 4:30 pm. This event is open to the public.

Acceptable Business Ventures

The objective of the Student New Venture Competition is to provide a meaningful learning experience for students who are interested in pursuing an entrepreneurial opportunity at some point in their careers.

The Competition is designed for contemplated and embryonic businesses. The Business Track of the NVC welcomes all ideas across all sectors. However, plans to create hedge funds, investments, private equities or venture capital funds are generally not eligible.

Requirements for a Team

  • Business ideas may be entered in ONE track - either Business or Social Enterprise.
  • Students may participate on a maximum of two teams, regardless of track.
  • Participating teams require at least one Harvard Business School MBA student who is a co-founder and a significant equity holder, if equity has been distributed. This HBS student MUST be present at the Super Saturday judging.
  • RC teams (i.e. any team with a first year, RC student) may not enter NVC with the same idea used for FIELD III project.
  • A team may include students from any other school within Harvard, students from other universities and non-students.
  • Previous winners, runners-up and crowd favorites can not compete with the same business idea in following years. They may enter the Competition again with a new business idea.
  • Any team that did not win a cash prize in the previous year's Competition may compete again with the same business idea - be prepared to show significant growth.
  • The limit for seed capital raised is $1,500,000.
  • The limit in revenue generated is $2,000,000.

Confidentiality

The only individuals who will have access to your executive summaries (in addition to the Rock Team) will be the judges who are assigned to read your executive summary. These judges are HBS alumni, entrepreneurs and investors who have agreed to maintain confidentiality of all executive summaries. We have asked 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 executive summary—or particular piece of it—as “confidential,” or to exclude any information you regard as truly proprietary, and to request that the judges give you the hard copy of your executive summary and pitch deck back after you've completed your presentation. If you are concerned about any particular VC firm—because they have backed a direct competitor—feel free to request that we not put a judge from that firm on your panel.

Note that the short description of your venture which you include with your entry form may be used in public documentation relating to the Competition.

Abiding by Community Values and Academic Policies

As members of the HBS Community, students agree to abide by our shared Community Values of respect for others, honesty and integrity, and accountability for personal behavior.

In particular, students should be aware that it is not permissible for conduct “surveys” of companies who are potential competitors for your proposed venture under the guise of an “HBS student project.” you must be honest and open about your intentions, and if you believe your honesty may inhibit people from speaking with you, that should serve as further evidence of the importance of adhering to the principle.

Similarly, if you are working on your plan with any “outsider” from academia or industry, you also have a responsibility to respect their intellectual property and to treat any information received from them as confidential.

For ECs: Multiple students in multiple courses working on the same project naturally raises issues related to ownership of the work product and attribution of efforts for grading. While the business plan entry itself is not graded as part of the competition, students are nonetheless directed to be sensitive to the issues raised by such projects. 

According to our self-plagiarism policy, if the executive summary or pitch deck (or research products that underpin it) will be submitted to more than one faculty member as part of a paper or project for credit, students must complete the form entitled "Required EC Student Report Disclosure Form (For Disclosure of Multiple Papers/Presentations from a Single Research Base)" and submit it to the various faculty members involved. The form is available online ator at the Registrar Services counter in Spangler. Note that any student projects and executive summary or pitch deck submissions that are found to be in violation if these requirements will be disqualified from the Competition and students may be subject to further disciplinary action.

Business Track Experimentation Fund

Purpose
To support students in their thoughtful and disciplined experimentation in building ventures.

How the Experimentation Fund Works
All teams preparing for the student Business Track of the NVC are eligible to take advantage of the experimentation funds, with a few key exceptions.  Please see below for exceptions.

Each team may be reimbursed up to $1000.00 of eligible expenses that were legitimately incurred in the course of preparing for the Competition and in the experimentation and testing of an idea.

While we wish we could support all eligible Business Track Teams, the Business Track Experimentation Fund is limited. Awards will be provided on a lottery basis with a total of forty awards available.

Applicants for reimbursement must:
  • Submit early registration poll for the New Venture Competition by February 4, 2015
  • Complete and submit required Experimentation Fund Reimbursement form to Rock Center, Room 107, by April 2, 2015
  • Note: Only complete submissions with appropriate documentation as listed below will be considered
Expense Policy Rules

1. Student Eligibility
  • The expenses must be submitted by the HBS founder or co-founder who officially entered the the New Venture Competition by the February 4, 2015, 5:00 pm deadline.
  • Students who receive a Rock Accelerator Award during this academic year are not eligible for this additional reimbursement.
  • The eventual Runner Up and Winner of this year's Business Track NVC are not eligible for the reimbursement.
2. Expense Eligibility
Only legitimate expenses incurred between September 1, 2014 and March 26, 2015 will be considered.
  • Eligible Expenses include the following:
    • Market research
    • Hosting services for running a beta version of a website
    • Software/hardware tools and development required to build a product/service or other expenses related to testing or validation of cores assumptions
    • Payments to others for services performed (e.g. accounting) as long as the individuals performing the service are not relatives or other team member
  • Not Eligible Expenses include the following:
    • Travel
    • Photocopying expenses
    • Meals
    • Entertainment
    • Incorporation or trademark expenses. Legal fees (e.g. filing/trademark) are generally not approved unless required for running an experiment
    • Hardware or electronic equipment for team members (i.e. laptops, smartphones, etc.)
All expenses are subject to approval by the Rock Center. Contact the Rock Team, rockcenter@hbs.edu, with any questions.

3. Required Documentation

Complete submissions are due to the Rock Center no later than April 2, 2015 @ 5:00 pm. The following are required for the submission:
  • Completed Business Track Experimentation Fund Reimbursement Form
  • Original receipts showing payments for all items listed in above form and must include:
    • Date of payment
    • Method of payment
    • Amount paid
    • In general, invoices are not acceptable proof of purchase in place of receipts unless the invoice states the date of service completed, method of payment and shows a zero balance due.
  • For students who completed Early Registration AND the Intent to Present, an Executive Summary must be included.
  • For students who completed Early Registration but did NOT submit the Intent to Present, a Memo of Non Participation must be included.
Only one submission is allowed per team.

4. Tax Liability

Non U.S. citizens: this reimbursement may result in the amount being subject to tax withholdings and reported to the IRS. Contact the Harvard International Office (http://www.hio.harvard.edu/) for more information. 

U.S. Citizens: these are generally non-reportable (Harvard does not report to the IRS) but all students should consult with a tax advisor to see if the grant income should be reported on their taxes.

5. Key Dates

9/1/2014 - 3/26/2015
Timeframe for eligible expenses

2/4/2015
Deadline for eligibility in Business Track Experimentation Fund

4/2/2015
Business Track Experimentation Fund forms due to Rock Center, Room 107