New Venture Competition
The New Venture Competition (NVC) is Innovate@BU’s largest annual competition that awards $64,000 to early-stage BU entrepreneurs and helps them transform their ideas into something real!
NVC 2021 Fast Facts:
- The competition is appropriate for ventures of any kind (technology or non-technology based, for-profit or non-profit) that are developing meaningful solutions to address large, important, and unmet needs and demonstrate potential to turn the idea into a scalable venture.
- The competition has two tracks: General Ideas and Social Impact Ideas.
- It is open to current BU students and alumni who have graduated within one year.
- The competition is made up of three rounds that take place between February–April. In 2021, all competition events will take place virtually on Zoom.
- Participants are connected with Innovate@BU’s resources including coaching and mentorship, founder and team skill-building, media exposure, and more.
Competition Format & Important Dates
The NVC is made up of one initial application period followed by three pitch rounds.
The NVC has two tracks. Teams must chose one track on the application that is most appropriate for their venture.
- General Ideas Track: For-profit ventures focused on creating value for a large market with a scalable model. Ideas from all sectors are welcome.
- Social Impact Ideas Track: For-profit, non-profit, or hybrid ventures that focus on creating positive social impact with a scalable model. Ideas from all sectors are welcome.
All interested teams must submit an application. Please see the “Application” section for more details about requirements and questions.
|Dates||Application opens: Friday, January 15
Application deadline: Thursday, February 18, 11:59 pm ET
By February 26, applicants will be notified via email if they are advancing to Round 1.
|# of Teams||Up to 40 teams (approx. 20 per track) will advance to Round 1.|
Round 1: Elevator Pitch
|Dates||General Track Elevator Pitch Night: Thursday, March 4, 6–8:45 pm
Social Impact Track Elevator Pitch Night: Tuesday, March 9, 6–8:45 pm
*These events will be open to the BU community and public.
|Format||2-minute pitch (no slides) + 2 minute Q&A with judges on Zoom.|
|# of Teams||Up to 24 teams (approx. 12 per track) will advance to the Semi-Finals.
Two teams (1 per track) will be chosen via Audience Favorite voting at the live Pitch Nights.
Round 2: Semi-Finals
|Dates||Thursday, March 25 (late afternoon to evening)
*These events will not be open to the BU community and public.
|Format||10-minute pitch (with slides) + 10 minute Q&A with judges on Zoom.|
|# of Teams||Up to 12 teams (approx. 6 per track) will advance to the Finals.|
|Requirements||All semi-finalist teams are required to have a 45-minute pitch preparation and feedback session with BUild Lab staff and coaches prior to pitching in this round.|
|Awards||All semi-final teams are awarded $500.|
Round 3: Finals
|Dates||Friday, April 16
*Final pitches will take place in the afternoon and will be closed to the public. In the evening, the BU community and public is invited to Innovator’s Night to meet all finalists and watch the award presentation.
|Format||10-minute pitch (with slides) + 10 minute Q&A with judges on Zoom.|
|# of Teams||6 teams (3 per track) will be awarded 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place cash prizes.|
|Requirements||All teams are required to attend Innovator’s Night on the evening of April 16 where the winners of each track will be announced.
All finalist teams will be offered optional pitch preparation and feedback sessions with BUild Lab staff and coaches prior to pitching in the final round.
|Awards||The top three teams in each track are awarded:
Applications are due here by Thursday, February 18, 2021 at 11:59 pm ET.
See below for a preview of questions that will be asked on the application. Each response is limited to 200 words.
- Problem: What is the problem that you are working to address? Why is it a large, important unmet need?
- Customer: Who are your target customers?
- Solution: What is your proposed solution?
- Competition: Who are your key competitors? In what ways do they not address the problem well?
- Value proposition: What is your unique, compelling value proposition?
- Target market: What is your target market? What is its size?
- Go-to-market strategy: What is your go-to-market strategy?
- Revenue model: What is your revenue model?
- Validation – market: What key steps have you taken to validate your idea with your target market?
- Validation – technical feasibility: If your proposed solution includes critical technology/science/social science related assumptions, what key steps have you taken to validate the technical feasibility of your proposed solution?
- Milestones accomplished: What key milestones have you completed?
- Milestones for next 12 months: What key milestones are you working toward accomplishing in the next 12-months?
- Team: Who are members of your team and your background and expertise? What makes you believe that you have the team to tackle this problem successfully? Please also list any advisors or board members if applicable (please be prepared to provide verification for any advisors or board members listed if you advance into the Semi-Finals).
- (Social Impact Track only): What is the social impact you are working to create?
- (Social Impact Track only): How is social impact prioritized in your venture’s decision-making and planning?
- Please disclose the amount and source for any funding you have raised.
Prizes & Awards
Prizes & Awards:
- The Top 3 teams in each track will be awarded the following cash prizes:
- 1st: $18,000
- 2nd: $8,000
- 3rd: $6,000
- The 1st place winner in each track will automatically earn a spot in BUild Lab’s 10-week Summer Accelerator should they choose to participate.
- All teams that advance to the Semi-Finals will receive a $500 award.
- Prize money is awarded after receipt of a completed W9 form from the founder or the designated award recipient(s) from the winning team. The W9 can also be from the team’s business entity, if already established, with an EIN.
- Issuing checks takes up to three weeks after the W9 is submitted to Innovate@BU staff.
- Individuals or businesses receiving prize money are responsible for the tax implications of the winnings, which BU and the IRS treat as income. Non-citizen prize winners are taxed up front on their winnings.
Eligibility, Requirements, & Expectations
Please read the following information carefully. Innovate@BU reserves the right to verify any submitted information for accuracy to address any circumstances in which the following rules do not apply and to disqualify any entry.
Teams & Participation
- A team could consist of one or more members.
- Each team may only apply with one idea and compete in one track. The application should be submitted by the Boston University student or Class of 2020 alumni who is the founder/co-founder of the venture and will act as the primary team contact during the competition.
- Teams that apply to the Social Impact Track must be able to demonstrate in their application and pitch that they prioritize social impact in their organizational decision-making and planning.
- Teams must have at least one current BU degree-seeking student or a BU Class of 2020 alumni who:
- is a co-founder
- plays a key management role in the venture, and
- will take part as one of the main presenters in each competing round
- Teams may include non-BU members as long as the previous requirement is met.
- Applicants must commit to being available to attend and participate in the Round 1: Elevator Pitch for their track in its entirety, and be available for the Semi-Finals and Final events on the listed dates and times.
Funding & Revenue Limitations
- Have not raised more than $250,000 in funding or grants.
- Generated less than $500,000 in annual revenue.
- Winners of Top 3 cash prizes in previous NVC’s cannot compete with the same venture idea. They may enter with a new venture idea.
- Teams must apply with an original idea and agree to not violate any contract or third party rights including any patent, copyright, trade secret, propriety or confidential information, trademark, publicity or privacy rights.
- This is a multi-round competition with many moving parts and logistics, including locations, dates and times, materials that may need to be emailed/collected in advance, etc. You are expected to be responsive to communication that is generally sent via email. If you do not respond to an email within 48 hours, we will assume you are not participating in the next stage of the competition.
We’re here to help! We encourage all participants to take advantage of the following resources.
- Friday, January 22 & 29: Learn more about the competition format and application process. RSVP here.
- Tuesday, January 19: How to Craft a Winning Pitch workshop
- Saturday, February 27: Pitch Perfect workshop at IDEA CON’21
- Innovate@BU staff and industry experts host regular office hours and can provide feedback and advice on your pitch, idea, and specific industries. Learn more here.
- Innovate@BU Idea Open-mic & Networking Nights are casual events to share your idea and receive feedback from peers. Check back soon for spring 2021 dates.
If you have any questions about the New Venture Competition, please reach out to Christine Armstrong, Innovate@BU program manager at: email@example.com.