Where Innovation Meets Relevance: The 2011 HBS Business Plan Competition

Burden Hall was packed.  Venture capitalists, lawyers, and other professionals had descended upon the HBS campus, and, along with a host of students, had the campus auditorium brimming with excitement normally reserved for dignitaries or CEOs.  In this case, however, it was a growing breed of HBS student—the entrepreneur—which had caused such a fervor.

In the 2011 Business Plan Competition (BPC) finals, held on April 26, teams displayed the work product of months, if not years, of market and product research.  Though many teams were wholly HBS students, others were collaborative efforts among HBS students and others from Harvard, MIT, or various other schools.

Both the competition and presentations were divided into two parts—social ventures and business ventures.  However, judging from the presentations, the two categories had considerable overlap.  Social ventures were based on strong business fundamentals; many business ventures were based on strong social causes.  However, the most visible similarity among all of the teams was entrepreneurial passion.  As said by Professor Mike Roberts in his opening comments, to many, this is more than just an “academic exercise.”

Though it would be impossible to describe each finalist in the detail each deserved, see below the list of finalists and winners as well as a brief description of each business plan.  For more information, feel free to reach out to the companies, and be sure to check out The Harbus next fall as we track the progress of many of these entrepreneurial ventures.

Social Venture Track

First Place: Sana Care – Technology to turn a mobile phone plus a low-cost sensor into an ECG for use in developing countries

Runner Up: The Watt Campaign – Program to enable students to jumpstart energy efficiency initiatives in schools and communities

Runner Up: AppSuccess – Collaborative web-based platform which matches low-income high school seniors with college students to aid in the college application process.

Runner Up: Debate Mate USA – Program to set up after school debate programs in urban public schools to develop the students’ verbal intelligence

Business Venture Track

First Place (tie): Baby.com.br – One-stop shop for baby products online in Brazil

First Place (tie): Boss Medical – Minimally invasive device for the extraction of iliac crest bone graft during spinal fusion procedures

Runner Up: MyTeksi – Mobile-based technology to match taxi fleets to passengers in Malaysia

Runner Up: Qweek – Cloud-based solution to optimize workforce management

Runner Up: Ubiquitous Energy – Low-cost, simple, and modular solar panels to supply electricity to “off-grid” communities worldwide