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HBS Names Winners and Celebrates 20th New Venture Competition at Finale

04 May 2017

The Social Enterprise Initiative manages the Social Enterprise Track of the New Venture Competition, supporting student ventures that aim to tackle society’s toughest challenges. The SE Track is open to graduate students from across Harvard University, and SEI provides a rigorous and supportive environment for these teams. This year’s 49 entries were a mix of nonprofit, for-profit, and hybrid model business plans, which were narrowed down to 16 semi-finalists and then to 4 finalists before the finale on April 25th.

Amid the bright lights, music, and glitter in Harvard Business School’s Burden auditorium yesterday afternoon, student and alumni entrepreneurs came out in force to compete in the grand Finale of the 20th annual HBS New Venture Competition (NVC).

Pitching before a group of distinguished judges, many of them HBS graduates, the participants were competing for awards totaling more than $300,000 in cash, along with in-kind prizes. To mark the anniversary of the NVC, the event also included a reunion of many past participants as well as a discussion featuring the Competition’s student cofounders and its first faculty advisor, Professor William Sahlman (MBA 1975).

Hosted each year by the School’s Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship and its Social Enterprise Initiative, the Harvard Business School New Venture Competition is open to all students and alumni interested in launching new business and social impact ventures. This year, 283 teams entered the competition--63 in the Student Business Track, 49 in the Student Social Enterprise Track, and 171 team from 30 countries in the Alumni Track.

This year's winners are:

Student Business Track

The Dubilier $75,000 Grand Prize: Veho, which aims to replace large delivery trucks with a platform that enables anyone to deliver packages in his or her car. Team: Itamar Zur (MBA 2017), Matt Graham (MBA 2017), Keith Cheong (MBA 2018)

Satchu-Burgstone $25,000 Runner-Up Prize: CozyKin, which helps working parents seeking infant childcare by pairing families so that they can share in-home Montessori care offered by the new venture’s network of technology-enabled nannies. Team: Jeremy Au (MBA 2018)

$5,000 Crowd Favorite Prize: CozyKin

Student Social Enterprise Track

Peter M. Sacerdote $75,000 Grand Prize: Flare, which is reinventing personal security by creating technology-enabled safety devices for women. Team: Quinn Fitzgerald (MBA 2017), Sara de Zarraga (MBA 2017)

Peter M. Sacerdote $25,000 Runner-Up Prize: Juva Therapy, which effectively connects mental health patients to providers best suited to their needs. Team: Stephanie Tong (MBA 2018), Qian Qian Tang, (MBA 2018)

$5,000 Crowd Favorite Prize: Juva Therapy

Alumni Track

$75,000 Grand Prize: Apli, a Mexican talent agency that delivers qualified on-demand workers in 24 hours. Alumna: Vera Makarov (MBA 2010), Region: Latin America

$25,000 Runner-Up: Vention, a platform that allows businesses to design and order custom manufacturing equipment online via 3-D printing, with delivery in three days instead of several months. Alumnus: Etienne Lacroix (MBA 2011), Region: Canada

$5,000 Crowd Favorite Prize: Apli

Other finalists presenting at the Finale were:

Student Business Track

ADay Technologies: A digital matching firm that provides employers with an adaptable workforce. Team: Rakheem Morris (MBA 2018), Michael Chalhoub (MBA 2017) Giovanni Conserva, Madeline Chapin, Jonathan Xu

Exero Labs (formerly Impact Labs): A venture that is developing and producing add-ons for football and other helmets to reduce damaging impact forces to the brain. Team: Ben Rizzo (MBA 2017), Alec Williams (MBA 2017), Tyler Biddix (MBA 2017), Kari O’Neil (MBA 2017), Brian Powers (MBA 2017)

Student Social Enterprise Track

hour72+ Insect Repellent: Its bug spray technology lasts three to five days, rather than hours, and will improve the health of millions globally. Team: Andrew Rothaus (MBA 2018), Abraar Karan (Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health), Kenneth Rothaus, Mike Milbocker

Mozambique School Lunch Initiative: MSLI links agricultural investment with school lunch programs in hopes that no child in Mozambique will go hungry. Team: Cara Myers (Harvard Kennedy School), Raphael Awuku (Harvard Kennedy School), Roberto Mutisse

Alumni Track

FreeFlow Medical Devices LLC: A maker of medical devices that solve blood clotting, clogging, and infection issues for patients. Alumnus: Andrew Jones (MBA 1997), Region: Mid-Atlantic US

Pawame: A new enterprise that makes solar energy affordable in Africa through a microfinance approach using mobile payments. Alumnus: Alexandre Skander Allegue (PLDA 18, 2015), Region: Africa

The New Venture Competition is the capstone event for HBS entrepreneurs,” said Jodi Gernon (MBA 1991), director of the Arthur Rock Center. “Since its inception in 1997, nearly 5,000 people have participated.”

“It is the culmination of a year-long journey that began last October,” added Matt Segneri (MBA 2010), director of the School’s Social Enterprise Initiative. “The NVC’s Social Enterprise Track is 'One Harvard' at its best, since it is open to graduate students across the entire University, while the Alumni Track is an international exposition of entrepreneurial talents.” Director of Alumni Clubs & Associations Mary-Helen Black thanked faculty, judges, and sponsors for their help, support, and encouragement.

Link to full press release.