In February 2020, the HBS New Venture Competition received 53 entries to the Social Enterprise Track, from student teams across Harvard University. Sixteen semifinalists presented at the beginning of April to expert judges from the field, who selected our four finalists. Learn more about each finalist team below.
HBS has been closely monitoring the coronavirus outbreak and all related guidelines. The health and safety of our community is our top priority, and after much consideration, we have decided to hold the Competition virtually. Please stay tuned for more updates as the Competition progresses, including the announcement of the winner and runner up.
DreamworldVR - DreamworldVR is combating loneliness and helping to develop emotional and social intelligence for isolated pediatric patients using immersive Virtual Reality (VR) technology.
Jean Jung (HSPH 2020); Mayank Aranke (HSPH 2020); Osaze Udeagbala; Jay Lee
- How did you come up with your idea? Having the experience of being sick as a kid. DreamworldVR is what I would have built at the age of 10, if I had the skill set.
- What was the "aha" moment for your start-up? When our team was out there in the hospital, just volunteering on the weekends to help the kids. The idea of building a virtual playground and MVP was a total hit for the kids.
- Why the HBS New Venture Competition? It gives you an opportunity to hone your presentation skills as well as think differently. Loved the judges’ feedback as well.
- In one word, what does entrepreneurship mean to you? Fancy word for making a change
Lucidity Health - Clinical decision support for frontline physicians in resource-constrained hospitals.
Tapley Stephenson (HBS/HSEAS 2020); Samuel Obletz (HBS/HKS 2022); Samantha Sanders (HBS/HMS 2020)
- How did you come up with your idea? Co-Founder and CTO Tap Stephenson saw the value of mobile-based medical imaging as a software engineer at Call9, where he built systems to livestream ultrasounds and EKGs. Together, the Lucidity team recognized that artificial intelligence can be deployed toward improving patient care, especially in low-resource settings.
- What was the "aha" moment for your start-up? After exploring machine vision applications in an adjacent space, we had a formative meeting with an HBS professor and physician who suggested we could equalize medical imagery interpretation across the world, driving real social impact. We subsequently spoke with over two dozen domestic and global health professionals who identified with the problem Lucidity seeks to solve
- Why the HBS New Venture Competition? We participated in NVC at the recommendation of our professors at both HBS and HKS, and our experience thus far has been incredible. Not only have we received clear, actionable feedback from a diverse panel of judges, but we have also relished the opportunity to further develop our innovation and pitch. Finally, it gives us great hope to see our fellow SE track companies tackling difficult challenges around the world. We look forward to being avid supporters and contributors to the NVC community.
- In one word, what does entrepreneurship mean to you? Progress
Mosaic - Provides a complete picture of a patient's health data across the continuum of care.
Sarah Schewe (HBS 2020)
- How did you come up with your idea? Last summer, my dad was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He'd been showing symptoms for months (if not years), but despite seeing many specialists, he went undiagnosed. My dad's medical records were scattered across several medical systems and due to limited interoperability, none of his providers had a complete picture of what was going on. I started Mosaic to solve this problem.
- What was the "aha" moment for your start-up? I started researching the problem and then designed a whole Independent Project (IP) around it. One day while reading a journal article, I discovered that U.S. healthcare data will soon reach a zettabyte – I didn’t even know what a zettabyte was – it just sounded like a really big number (turns out, it’s 10^21 gigabytes). I realized that we have never had so much healthcare data – and at the same time, we’re not able to leverage it because of the way it’s stored. It was a big “aha” – if we can connect this data, we can create a platform for innovation, which will allow data scientists to learn from this data and doctors to act on it.
- Why the HBS New Venture Competition? My background is in healthcare (and specifically, electronic medical records), so I came into the competition with a background that fit the problem I’m personally passionate about. But working on a start-up is really hard – it’s all consuming, it’s something I think about every day and dream about at night (literally, I wake up and jot down ideas on post-it notes by my bed). So imagine this thing that you can’t stop thinking about and then imagine that most people you share your idea with say, “well that will never work.” It just sounds too hard. What’s amazing about the New Venture Competition is that you get to be surrounded by people who want to help you make it work. They know it’s going to be hard, so they ask you if you’ve considered X and how you’ll address Y. They offer to connect you to people. You get to revise and refine and present your idea, again and again. Step by step, they help you figure out how to do the thing that everyone thinks is impossible.
- In one word, what does entrepreneurship mean to you? Courage
Wala Digital Health - An innovative digital marketplace for blood donation, processing, and delivery.
Dennis Addo (HKS 2020); Josue Chavarin (HKS 2020); Anatole Menon-Johansson
- How did you come up with your idea? My drive and desire for this project come from personal experience. As a doctor working in rural Ghana, I faced the challenge of getting blood products for my patients for critical life-saving transfusions. Sometimes I succeed, and most times, I did not.
- What was the "aha" moment for your start-up? The "aha" was when I lost my patient Martha. At that point knew I had to do something to help solve the problem. Martha gave birth to a beautiful baby. She hemorrhaged as is quite common in pregnancies. In the West, this would have been a simple matter of giving her blood transfusion to keep her life, but in our hospital in Ghana, we do not have access to a matched blood, and as a consequence, Martha passed away.
- Why the HBS New Venture Competition? The HBS New Venture Competition is a platform to bring ideas to life. It started with the 60-second pitch, forming a team, and now we're getting ready to pilot. The skills and the confidence gained through this competition is priceless. I would urge everyone to give it a shot no matter how small their ideas. You could just become the next social change-maker!
- In one word, what does entrepreneurship mean to you? Impact