24 Apr 2019

HBS New Venture Competition Features World Changing Ideas

Photo: Susan Young

BOSTON—Harvard Business School’s Klarman Hall was brimming with excitement yesterday evening as 12 student and alumni finalist teams competed in the Finale of the 22nd annual HBS New Venture Competition (NVC). At stake was $315,000 in cash prizes as well as in-kind prizes. The top prize in the student business, student social enterprise, and alumni tracks was $75,000 each.

The new venture pitches were vetted by more than 200 judges, including many HBS graduates, from fields such as venture capital, private equity, law, accounting, philanthropy, impact investing, and social entrepreneurship.

The Harvard Business School New Venture Competition is open to all students and alumni interested in launching new business and social impact ventures. The School’s Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship and its Social Enterprise Initiative, in partnership with HBS Alumni Clubs & Associations, host the annual competition. This year, 266 teams entered the competition—66 in the Student Business Track, 48 in the Student Social Enterprise Track, and 152 Alumni Track teams in seven regional competitions around the world. Since its inception in 1997, there have been 5,704 participants, and $2,655,000 has been awarded to the students and alumni who are creating groundbreaking new businesses and social impact ventures.

“The bold and innovative ideas that these teams have developed are going to change the way we do business and how we impact the world,” noted Jodi Gernon (MBA 1991), Director of the Arthur Rock Center.

“2019 was a banner year, with more than 40% of our student teams entering the Social Enterprise Track,” said Matt Segneri (MBA 2010), Director of the School’s Social Enterprise Initiative. “They put forward a staggering array of ideas to create better markets and correct market failures. Our social entrepreneurs are solving problems that cut across the private, public, and non-profit sectors, because the entrepreneur of the 21st century is a tri-sector athlete, capable of creating value in all three.”

HBS Professor Shikhar Ghosh, Faculty Co-chair of the Arthur Rock Center, asked attendees to think about a single commonality between Google, Facebook, Apple, Intel, FedEx, Ebay, Intuit, PayPal, and Pandora. “I’m reasonably sure that none of you got the answer right,” he said after a pause. “They were all refused investment by one single major firm. For all of you in the audience who didn’t quite make it here, that’s part of being an entrepreneur—learning to hear ‘no’ and still moving ahead.”

Prior to presenting the awards, HBS Dean Nitin Nohria added, “For an entrepreneur, every challenge that seems insurmountable is actually an opportunity. The heart of HBS, our mission, is to educate leaders who make a difference in the world. I think there is no better way to make that difference than through an entrepreneurial venture. I’m truly grateful to every one of you who participated.”

In addition to the $315,000 in cash prizes, sponsors have donated in-kind tools and services that will help the startups launch and grow. In-kind sponsors are Amazon Web Services (AWS), Case Smart Impact Capital, Echoing Green, Foley Hoag LLP, Harvard i-labs, HBS Baker Library/Bloomberg Center, and HubSpot.

This year’s winners are:

Student Business Track

The Dubilier $75,000 Grand Prize: MyToolbox Technologies, Inc. (DESCRIPTIONS BELOW)

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The Dubilier prize was established by New York and London-based private investment firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice in 1998 in honor of their founder, Martin Dubilier (MBA 1952), to support entrepreneurship.

Satchu-Burgstone $25,000 Runner-Up Prize: Nom Pot

The Satchu-Burgstone Prize honors Jon Burgstone (MBA 1999), Asif Satchu (MBA 1999), and Reza Satchu (MBA 1996), all recipients of the runner-up prize in the 1999 Competition with their plan for SupplierMarket.com.

$5,000 Crowd Favorite Prize: MyToolbox Technologies, Inc.

Student Social Enterprise Track

Peter M. Sacerdote $75,000 Grand Prize: Hikma Health

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The Sacerdote Prizes were initially established in 2003 by Peter M. Sacerdote (MBA 1964) to encourage more HBS graduates to become involved in social enterprises and to support their efforts.

Peter M. Sacerdote $25,000 Runner-Up Prize: Gramhal

$5,000 Crowd Favorite Prize: Hikma Health

Alumni Track

$75,000 Grand Prize: Blueland

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$25,000 Runner-Up: X-Cor Therapeutics

$5,000 Crowd Favorite Prize: Blueland

The finalist teams presenting at the Finale were:

Student Business Track

AlmaPact Inc. Offers flexible ways for students to finance their education and sustainable ways for investors to capitalize on human potential.
Team: Kelly Shaw (MBA 2020), Tess Michaels (MBA 2020)

Uses group buying power to negotiate down your student loan rates.
Team: Nikhil Agarwal (MBA 2020), Christopher Abkarians (MBA 2020)

MyToolbox Technologies, Inc.
B2B labor marketplace for the construction industry. Through their platform, subcontractors can secure work and empower their workers.
Team: Wil Eyi (MBA 2019)

Nom Pot
Healthy, satisfying, and clean-label frozen meals ready for one-pot cooking.
Team: Kasey Le (MBA 2020), Neha Mathur (MBA 2020), Zach Keeling (MBA 2020), Ed Arthy (MBA 2020)

Student Social Enterprise Track

Unlocks post-harvest services of storage, credit, and market linkage for smallholder farmers.
Team: Vikas Birhma (Harvard Kennedy School 2019), Pankaj Mahalle

Hikma Health
Creates customized data management systems for healthcare providers caring for refugee patients.
Team: Jordan Lebovic (MD/MBA 2020), Senan Ebrahim (Harvard Medical School 2021), Erik Grueter, Zara Allkhateeb

New Teachers Thriving
Too many early-career teachers are burned out. And then quit. New Teachers Thriving trainings help them thrive.
Team: Tyler Hester (Harvard Graduate School of Education 2020), Crystel Harris (Harvard Graduate School of Education 2021), Akash Wasil (Harvard College 2019)

Vincere Health
Vincere Health helps people get paid for digitally proving health compliance, while keeping control of their data.
Team: Jacob Keteyian (Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health 2019), Shalen De Silva (Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health 2019), Ollie Osunkunle (MBA 2020), Han Jin (Harvard Graduate School of Design 2019)

Alumni Track

Blueland: Taking the weight and waste out of your everyday products.
Alumnus: Gina Pak (MBA 2015), Region: Northeastern U.S./New York

Totodi Technologies: A regulatory technology company improving China's private asset and wealth management industry through technology and expert IT outsourcing services.
Alumnus: Zhong Li (MBA 2009), Co-founder and CEO, Region: Asia/Pacific

X-Cor Therapeutics: The first commercially available extracorporeal CO2 removal device that uses ultra-low-blood flow to treat patients with hypercarbic respiratory failure.
Alumnus: Jayon Wang (MBA 2018), Region: Northeast/Boston

Zubale: A platform enabling companies to crowdsource insights directly from consumers on their smartphones.
Alumnus: Allison Campbell (MBA 2018), Co-founder, Region: Central U.S./Atlanta


Cullen Schmitt

About Harvard Business School

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 250 offers full-time programs leading to the MBA and PhD degrees, as well as more than 175 Executive Education programs, and Harvard Business School Online, the School’s digital learning platform. For more than a century, faculty have drawn on their research, their experience in working with organizations worldwide, and their passion for teaching, to educate leaders who make a difference in the world. The School and its curriculum attract the boldest thinkers and the most collaborative learners who will go on to shape the practice of business and entrepreneurship around the globe.