31 Mar 2023

2023 Harvard Business School New Venture Competition: Bringing Out the Best in HBS Students and Alumni, with Ideas and Ventures to Change the World


BOSTON—Harvard Business School’s (HBS) Klarman Hall was packed to capacity yesterday evening, with spectators there to support the 12 student finalist teams competing in the finale of the 26th annual HBS New Venture Competition (NVC). At stake was $225,000 in cash plus in-kind prizes to fund the startups. The top prize in the Student Business Track and Student Social Enterprise Track was $75,000 each, with runner-up prizes of $25,000; two audience prizes of $5,000; and $15,000 in Tough Technology prizes.

The NVC 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 Social Enterprise Initiative (SEI), in partnership with HBS Alumni Clubs & Associations, host the annual competition. This year, 318 teams entered the competition—122 in the Student Business Track, 57 in the Student Social Enterprise Track, and 139 Alumni Track teams in eight regional competitions around the world. Since its inception in 1997, there have been 6,022 participants, and $2,980,000 has been awarded to the students and alumni who are creating groundbreaking new businesses and social impact ventures.

This year’s new venture pitches were vetted by more than 300 judges, including many HBS graduates, from fields such as venture capital, private equity, law, accounting, philanthropy, impact investing, and social entrepreneurship. The result was 20 finalists, eight in the Student Business Track, four in the Social Enterprise Track, and eight in the Alumni Track, in fields as varied as healthcare, sustainability, artificial intelligence, cosmetics, and even hair braiding.

“Our entrepreneurs have been working diligently on their ventures for the past year or two, and the NVC is the culmination of that work,” said Jodi Gernon (MBA 1991), director of the Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship. “They have cultivated their ideas, often collaborated with classmates, and taken advantage of the many entrepreneurship resources the School has to offer. Now, with the experience of crafting, refining, and delivering a pitch, and in some cases a cash prize, they can continue their journey.”

“Many of this year’s ventures have the potential to drive sustained, high-impact social change, core to what drives social enterprise,” Amelia Angella (MBA 2001), interim director of the Social Enterprise Initiative, commented. “Our students have had the opportunity to stress test their ideas through the competition process and will to continue to iterate and improve their organizations, as they tackle societal issues.”

During the ceremony, HBS Professor Shikhar Ghosh, faculty co-chair of the Rock Center, addressed the participants and the importance of their work. “While we’re entering a world where exponential change is coming, things are already changing all around us,” he noted. “What we need is a set of entrepreneurs that are willing to step out of their comfort zone, go into the world and look at the way we organize society, medicine, education, and ourselves, because all of those things are going to change thanks to the power of technology.”

In addition to the $225,000 in cash prizes, sponsors have donated in-kind tools and services that will help the startups launch and grow. In-kind sponsors are Foley Hoag LLP Law Firm, All Stage, AWS Activate, Case Smart Impact Capital, Harvard Innovation Labs, HBS’s Baker Library, HubSpot for Startups, MassChallenge, and Wix.

This year’s winners are:

Student Business Track

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.

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.

The Dubilier $75,000 Grand Prize: Halo Braid
View Video
Halo Braid reduces braiding time from hours to minutes, saving time for clients, empowering Black salon owners to double or triple their business, and addressing the eight billion hours spent braiding hair each year.

  • Yinka Ogunbiyi (MS/MBA 2023), Founder and CEO
  • David Afolabi (MBA 2023), Co-Founder
  • Christian Knight (MBA 2023), Co-Founder
  • Satchu-Burgstone $25,000 Runner Up Prize: DoriVac
    View Video
    DoriVac is working to solve huge unmet health needs in cancer treatment through the intersection of innovative life science approaches in cancer immunotherapy, nanomaterials engineering, and leadership spanning the medical, science, and business fields.

  • Kevin Emancipator (MBA 2023), CBO
  • Claire Zeng, CEO
  • Crowd Favorite Prize: Halo Braid

    Student Social Enterprise Track

    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 $75,000 Grand Prize: The MV3 Foundation
    View Video
    The MV3 Foundation empowers Black college students pursuing careers in health sciences.

  • Ashley Kyalwazi (MD/MPP 2024), Founder and CEO
  • Leonard Nettey (MD/PhD), COO & Research Lead
  • Peter M. Sacerdote $25,000 Runner Up Prize: Pando
    View Video
    Pando democratizes credit for 150 million underbanked Indonesians by providing alternative loans and helping them build a credit history.

  • Claire Wu (MBA 2023), CEO
  • Andrew Setiawan, President
  • Crowd Favorite Prize: Pando

    Tough Technology Prize

    This is the fourth year for the Tough Technology Prize, sponsored by the Rock Center in collaboration with the HBS Digital, Health Care, and Business and Environment Initiatives, to recognize ventures working on transformative technology that solves the world’s most important challenges through the convergence of breakthrough science, engineering, and leadership. This year there are three $5,000 Touch Tech Venture Awards for Most Promising Climate Tech, Deep Tech and Pharmaceutical Ventures.

    Tough Tech: Most Promising Climate Tech Venture $5,000 Prize: Grensol
    Grensol closes the materials loop for car recycling to valorize industrial waste, recover valuable resources, and produce energy.

  • Rajiv Singhal (MBA 2007), Founder & CEO
  • Federico Bussman, Business Development
  • Dr. Joseph Laux, CTO
  • Dr. Bhawna Nagar, Research Projects
  • Region: Europe

    Tough Tech: Most Promising Deep Tech Venture $5,000 Prize: Phenegra
    Phenegra re-imagines the potential of reactive graphene to attack problems that imperil the natural environment, like oil spills, unrecycled garbage, depleted soil. The organization begins humbly with the global challenge to fix broken paving asphalt, and the soil and water pollution it leaves.

  • Ronald Terrazas (MBA 1978), Co-Founder & CEO
  • Dr. Gordon Chiu, President, Director & CTO
  • Bruce Paschal, Director of Legal & Regulatory Affairs
  • Jessica Pitsillides, HFAS 2025, Special Adviser
  • Region: Northeast U.S./New York

    Tough Tech: Most Promising Pharmaceutical Venture $5,000 Prize: Believer Pharmaceuticals
    Believer Pharmaceutical is developing novel protein degradation therapeutics targeting Zinc Finger transcription factors for intractable cancer treatment along with an ultrasensitive companion diagnostic assay.

  • Iris Li (MBA 2024), Business Development Director
  • Giovanni Amabile, HMS, Acting CSO
  • Professor Li Chai, HMS, PI & Co-Founder
  • Jun Liu, HMS, Scientific Director
  • Professor Daniel Tenen, HMS, PI & Co-Founder
  • Alumni Track

    Separately, HBS alumni were invited to participate in the Alumni New Venture Competition (aNVC). The 139 teams competed in eight regions around the world, where regional finalists were sent to the Global Finals round to compete for over $100,000 in cash and in-kind prizes. More than 100 judges participated. Winners were announced at the Global Finale held virtually on March 23.

    $75,000 Grand Prize: M7 Health
    View Video
    M7 Health is making nursing jobs work for nurses.

  • Ilana Springer Borkenstein (MBA 2022), Co-Founder & CEO
  • Eric Gruskin (MBA 2022), Co-Founder & COO
  • Region: New York

    $25,000 Runner Up Prize: Hue
    View Video
    Hue helps brands and retailers embed TikTok-style shoppable videos on their e-commerce websites to give customers of beauty products the confidence to add to products to their cart.

  • Janvi Shah (MBA 2022), Co-Founder & CEO
  • Nicole Clay (MBA 2022), Co-Founder & CMO
  • Sylvan Guo (MBA 2022), Co-Founder & COO
  • Region: Northeastern US/Boston

    Crowd Favorite $5,000: Tilden
    Tilden creates non-alcoholic beverages that change the way society thinks about celebrating.

  • Mariah Hilton Wood (MBA 2022) Co-Founder & COO
  • Vanessa Royle (MBA 2022), Co-Founder
  • Region: Western US/Southern California

    For further information and to read more about some of the New Venture Competition Business Track, Social Enterprise Track, and Alumni Track finalist teams, please visit the following websites:

  • Business Track Finalists
  • Social Enterprise Track Finalists
  • Alumni Track Finalists
  • Contacts

    Mark Cautela

    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.