It’s only fitting that Harvard Business School have a Business Plan Contest; a contest so impressive the program’s closer to a short novel, spanning well over 60 pages. Open to all Harvard MBA candidates, the Contest comprises both the for-profit venture track and social venture track, awarding over $150,000 in cash and in-kind services to the winners and runners-up.
Co-sponsored by the university’s Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship and Social Enterprise Initiative, the Contest has three very simple objectives: To educate students in the process of creating and evaluating new business ventures; to prepare students for opportunities in entrepreneurship sometime during their careers; and to harness the unique resources that HBS and its communities offer.
Founders of Rent The Runway, Birchbox, CloudFlare, RelayRides and thredUP have all previously competed in the Contest, kicking off a string of HBS success stories. And this year’s winners look just as promising.
Runner-up of the Social Venture Track was Xinfugo, a company looking to build a disruptive base-of-pyramid retail and distribution platform to deliver safe and effective essential products at a lower cost in rural China. The team won $10,000 in cash, plus in-kind services.
Walking away with first place and $25,000 in cash and in-kind services, however, was eTransitions, a web-based solution that streamlines the transition of patients from the hospital to post-acute care facilities. The team — made up of Lissy Hu, Jessica Hohman, Kira Yugay and Jonathan Helm — said they were blown away, “impressed by the great ideas” present.
“This is so gratifying for us,” Hu said, claiming the win would help them move forward along the social venture track. Through the process of building the company, Hohman remarked they were given the chance to learn about the nuances of the industry “they didn’t even realize were there while [they] were in it.”
The Business Venture Track awarded three of the final four teams with the runner-up title. They included:
RallyPoint — A business aimed at revolutionizing the way military professionals connect, develop and pursue fulfilling opportunities throughout their military careers. RallyPoint claims they do for the military what LinkedIn does for business.
SaferTaxi — Using the SaferTaxi smartphone application, customers in Latin America are allowed to book and pay rate taxis with added convenience, as well as transparency.
Zumper — Zumper allows tenants to search for, and close, annual apartment leases in a much more transparent manner.
Vaxess Technologies walked away the $25,000 winner. The six-person team — comprised of Michael Schrader, Anura Patil, Livio Valenti, Patrick Ho, Kathryn Kosuda and Isa Watson — is working to commercialize a Tufts University technology that stabilizes vaccines into a thin film strip which can be shipped and stored without refrigeration, eliminating the need for the cold-chain.
“We were blown away by the quality of the other teams, so this is a very high compliment” Schrader said. Winning the Contest is what Schrader admitted he hopes is the start of a wave of momentum. Vaxess is also a semi-finalist in the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition, as well as Harvard’s President’s Challenge.
Will we be seeing any of these names added to the “success stories” list?
Photo Courtesy of Harvard Business School