Harvard Business School recently launched its fourth annual alumni new ventures competition. I'm a huge fan of this competition having been a finalists judge the past two years and co-chair of the Boston chapter of the competition. What sets this competition apart from the plethora of others is its global reach, the scale of the enterprises that compete and the vast resources made available to all the competitors. The competition has two tracks: one for social ventures and another for for-profit businesses.
Global Reach. In past years, there have been dozens of regional competitions from China, India, Brazil, Europe and across the US. The winner of each of these regional competitions all come to Boston in April for the final round of judging on campus at Harvard Business School competing for hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and in kind services.
Impressive Scale. Having been a judge for many business plan competitions, one of the things that stand out to me about this one is the impressive scale of the competitors. The companies competing on the business track are almost always much more than a business plan. Many of the ventures have robust products that are already in the market and some have already raised capital (although investment is limited to less than $1 million). Add to this that the management teams of competitors have to have at least one HBS alumni, the scale of the competitors really is one of the major standouts of the competition.
Vast Resources. This competition is one of those "fill out a form and see you at the finals" events. In fact, there are quite a number of seminars, workshops, webinars, coaching and other resources made available to all of the competitors continuously during the 6 months or so between when the competition opens and when the winners are selected.
Here is a video of some of the 2012 winners describing their experience.
For those in Boston, I encourage you to join me at the kick-off event on November 11 at 5:30 (more details here). There will be more information on the event, a chance to network with folks interested in entering the competition and a panel discussion by some of the areas most successful entrepreneurs including Endeca founder and CEO (acquired by Oracle for $1.1B), Steve Papa, Kiva Systems founder and CEO, Mike Mountz, Catabasis Pharmaceuticals founder and CEO, Jill Milne, CustomMade.com co-founder and COO Seth Rosen and moderated by HBS professor Joe Lassiter. It will be a fantastic event. I look forward to seeing you there.