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HBS Names New Venture Competition Winners

Posted by Chioma Isiadinso

Harvard Business School has announced the winners of its 21st annual New Venture Competition, in which businesses founded by HBS students and alums made pitches for $315,000 in cash prizes.

The New Venture Competition is divided into three tracks: student businesses, alumni businesses, and student social enterprises. This year, competition was fierce: these three categories drew 127, 164 and 69 entrants respectively.

Within each category, teams compete for a $75,000 grand prize, a $25,000 runner-up prize, and a $5,000 crowd favorite prize. Besides the cash prizes, the competition includes prizes of in-kind services from sponsors like Amazon Web Services. 

Of course, a competition of that scale is no small undertaking. The process began in the fall and involved more than 300 judges. Teams went through several rounds, including 11 regional competitions for alums that took place around the world. 

So who are the teams that made it to the end of this intensive process? 

This month, 12 teams converged on HBS’s campus for the New Venture Competition finals. 

Winning the grand prize in the student business track was Hour 72+, a business with a 72-hour insect repellant.

In the student social enterprise category, first place went to Umbulizer, a company that is “developing a low-cost, portable ventilator for patients in resource-constrained markets.” 

And in the alumni track, the top spot went to Dynamicare Health. Led by Eric Gastfriend, MBA Class of 2015, the company offers a digital platform helping with recovery from addiction. 

Mary-Helen Black, HBS’s Director of Alumni Clubs & Associations, noted that the competition offers a unique opportunity to many of the teams that didn’t earn the coveted top prizes too.

“It raises their profiles,” she said. “In addition to the grand prizes from HBS, some of these startups receive funding from the chapters and from other investors after pitching in the regional local alumni competitions.”

 Overall, she concluded, alumni have found the experience to be “pivotal, invaluable and enlightening.” 

For students, the competition has similar potential. Jodi Gernon, Director of HBS’s Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship, describes the competition as “critical to entrepreneurship at HBS” and “the capstone event for HBS entrepreneurs.” 

Of course, everyone who has a chance to participate in the New Venture Competition has already won another highly selective competition: the competition of getting admitted to HBS.

In this latter competition, we can help you discover your edge. We’ll tell you how your profile aligns with those of other applicants and how you can emphasize your unique strengths to HBS’s adcom. Get started with a free assessment!

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