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 be a part of the founding team and a significant equity holder, if equity has been distributed.

There is a $1,500,000 limit in seed capital raised and a $2,000,000 limit in revenue generated. Please view the eligibility page for more information.

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.

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.

I am from another program (e.g., Kennedy School, Law School, MIT) but would like to take part. What should I do?

Business Track: Only teams with an HBS students co-founder are eligible.

Social Enterprise Track: See the Eligibility page for requirements for non-HBS student teams, as well as the Social Enterprise Track Teams page to join a team.

What happens if I apply to the competition but decide not to participate? Can I still be eligible for the business track experimentation fund and the social enterprise grants?

If you elect not to present, you will still be eligible for reimbursement of up to $1,000 of expense if you are an HBS team. However, in order to be eligible, you must still submit a document to the student New Venture Competition. This document should describe your reasons for not pursuing the business opportunity. The philosophy here is that the $1,000 grant is designed to facilitate the learning process, and we do not want to penalize teams who learned that their idea was not worthy of pursuit. At the same time, we need to see evidence that substantive intellectual work was done.

What are the prizes? How is the prize money split?

The winning team for both the Business and Social Enterprise Tracks will receive cash (taxable) plus in-kind services. One runner up for each track will also receive cash (taxable) plus in-kind services. For the Business Track, under the terms of prize funding, prize money checks can only be written to Harvard Business School students. For the SE Track, prize money checks can only be written to HBS students, Center for Public Leadership Fellows or Harvard graduate student currently enrolled in a related course.

Note that these awards are taxable, and that we must have your social security number before a check is cut. Each team winning a prize will have sole responsibility for deciding how to allocate or otherwise use its prize proceeds. The organizers of the Competition will not become involved, either voluntarily or by request, in a team's decision concerning the allocation or use of prize proceeds.

Do non-winning teams ever become successful?

Each year, many teams go on to launch their ventures, and not all were Competition winners. The Competition is designed to give students the opportunity to explore entrepreneurship and test ideas.

All teams, regardless of placement in the competition, benefit from speakers, workshops, office hours, and written/oral feedback from judges, faculty, and staff.

If I register to participate, may I withdraw from the competition later on? At what point am I fully committed in the competition?

Yes, if you register to participate you have the option to withdraw of the competition until the final registration deadline.

Can I participate in multiple teams or multiple tracks?

You can participate in a maximum of 2 teams. Additionally, the project can only be entered in one track of the New Venture Competition (e.g. Business,Social Enterprise or Alumni).

Can I compete in the competition 2 years in a row?

Business Track: Yes, but not with the same business idea if you were a grand prize or runner-up winner. You may compete with the same idea if you did not win one of these prizes. You may also compete in your second year with a different idea.

Social Enterprise Track:

  • If you were a grand prize or runner-up winner, you may not compete with the same business idea.
  • If you were a finalist team that did not place as winner or runner-up, we will look at how the idea has evolved since the initial entry to determine eligibility.
  • If you were not a finalist, you may compete with the same idea.
  • All teams may also compete a second time with a different idea.

How do I find information on the alumni competition?
Alumni pursuing new business and social-impact ventures have the opportunity to participate in the Alumni New Venture Competition by one of 15 regional competitions hosted by HBS alumni “hub” clubs around the world.
What are team eligibility requirements?

Business Track: 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.

Social Enterprise Track: The Social Enterprise Track is open to students in good standing who are enrolled in a full-time graduate degree program at Harvard University. See website for complete details on team eligibility.

If I compete/am a winner in the New Venture Competition, can I also participate in other Rock Programs and Harvard Competitions?

Yes, as long as you are not a winner or runner up in the New Venture Competition. If you are a grand prize or runner-up winner, you may not submit the same idea for a Rock Summer Fellowship or for the Rock Accelerator award. You may compete in other Harvard Competitions.

Are there limitations on the amount of seed capital raised or revenue generated?

Business Track:Yes, there is a $1,500,000 limit in capital raised and a $2,000,000 limit in revenue.

Social Enterprise Track:Revenues or donations since inception (either earned or contributed) are generally $100,000 or less.