Student- and alumni-run startups Hour 72+, Umbulizer, and DynamiCare Health walked away from the 2018 HBS New Venture Competition with the Grand Prize of $75,000 each, respectively in the Student Business, Student Social Enterprise, and Alumni Tracks. For the finale, 12 teams, selected from an initial pool of 360 entrants, presented 90-second pitches before an audience of over 500 members of the Harvard community in Shad Hall. The competition, sponsored by Harvard Business School’s Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship, Social Enterprise Initiative, and HBS Alumni Clubs & Associations, included a total of $315,000 in cash awards.
“You are all part of a great tradition tonight,” remarked Professor Thomas Eisenmann, Faculty Co-Chair of the Rock Center for Entrepreneurship, while the judges prepared to present the results. This year marks the 21st anniversary of the competition, which began as the HBS Business Plan Contest and counts Cloudflare, Birchbox, and Rent the Runway among its past winners. HBS alumni comprised many of this year’s over 300 judges.
Hour 72+, by Andrew Rothaus (MBA ’18) and Abraar Karan, bested a field of 127 teams in the Student Business Track. The duo developed an insect repellant that needs to be applied only once every three days and reduces the inconvenience and discomfort that deters the use of traditional spray-on products. “For many people worldwide, a simple insect bite can be the difference between life and death,” said Karan. “Hour 72+ is a revolution in how we will protect ourselves from insects,” added Rothaus. “It will benefit every single person in this room, and it will benefit billions of the world’s most vulnerable people.”
Umbulizer, by Hamza Khan (MBA ’19), Shaheer Piracha, and Sanchay Gupta (MD ’21), took the top spot among 69 entrants in the Student Social Enterprise Track. The team pitched a patent-pending portable ventilator for resource-constrained populations, capable of addressing the vast majority of demand at one-tenth of the price of existing products. “The bottom line is that this device has the potential to save thousands of lives and millions of dollars in healthcare spending each year,” said Khan (MBA ’19).
In the Alumni Track, DynamiCare Health, presented by CEO Eric Gastfriend (MBA ’15), prevailed out of 164 teams from 11 regions around the world. The company helps patients recovery from drug, alcohol, and tobacco addictions through a combination of incentives and monitoring, including random real-time drug tests directly through a mobile phone. “The digital platform for monitoring and rewards will revolutionize how we support recovery,” said Gastfriend.
The runner-up in each of the three categories took home an award of $25,000. Alpha Vantage, a cloud-based financial data platform by Olivier Porte (MBA ’18) and Steve Zheng (MBA ’18), was named the runner-up in the Student Business Track. Student Social Enterprise runner-up Neptune, by Noah Stern (MBA/MPP ’18), Flint Holbrook (MBA’18), and Nic Cain, offers a new and improved grease trap to reduce buildup in pipes and sewers. In the Alumni category, runner-up Magma Trading, run by CEO George Hessler (MBA ’85), facilitates large-size securities trades.
The remaining finalists who pitched were: Aday (Rahkeem Morris, Rob Snyder, Giovanni Conserva, Madeline Chapin) and Nalagenetics (Levana Sani, Alexandre Lezhava, Astrid Irwanto, Jianjun Liu) in the Student Business Track; Dignify (Laura Oller, Marta Milkowska, Ziad Reslan) and SHLD (Andy Riemer, Wil Cardwell, Jhenna Voorhis, Jenny Riemer) in the Social Enterprise Track; and Medumo (Aiden Feng, Adeel Yang) and WeMaintain (Benoit Dupont) in the Alumni Track. Hour 72+, Umbulizer, and WeMaintain also received $5,000 Crowd Favorite prizes for their respective tracks, based on audience voting.