The guiding principle for participants throughout this process is to enthusiastically support each other’s ideas and progress, while always upholding the Community Values of Harvard Business School:

  • Respect for the rights, differences, and dignity of others
  • Honesty and integrity in dealing with all members of the community
  • Accountability for personal behavior

Our values guide all that we do, wherever we are, and with everyone we meet.

For those concerned about sharing early-stage ideas within the HBAP community and publicly, we share the following advice: 

  • Generally, unless intellectual property is involved or it is a really new product, there is no great benefit in keeping the idea a secret. Sharing high-level details is generally helpful without giving away the “secret sauce” (algorithm, food recipe, etc.). As teams move forward with their ideas, pitching the idea, talking to experts, and gathering feedback are all necessary and important aspects of the process. 
  • If there is already a comparable idea on the market, being the first to get attention on the idea is in the best interest of the team. 

Creating new ventures is a complicated process and involves negotiating between multiple stakeholders on the team. We encourage students to carefully consider each team member’s roles and responsibilities and come to an agreement that is fair to everyone. If issues arise, we encourage students to work through those issues between the team, the program will not mediate disagreements between team members.

General entry requirements

  • All current HBAP students  and alumni are invited to participate.
  • Students can only be on one team (one student cannot be on multiple teams in supporting roles, not even as an advisor).
  • Students who previously submitted an idea to the ideation activity or pitch competitions but were not selected as a finalist or winner may submit a more developed version of their idea, but must be able to show that they’ve iterated on or honed their idea since the prior submission.
  • Previous finalists and winners of the pitch competition and ideation activity are not eligible to submit the same idea to the competition but can join with a new idea. They are also welcome to participate in the workshops and support events leading up to the competition to further develop their prior idea but are not eligible to enter the competition with the same idea.
  • Students are permitted to work individually or in teams of up to 4 people. We encourage students to team up with peers to strengthen their founding team. One student must be named as the founder/CEO and main point person. Teams can include non-HBAP members but those members may not be able to access workshops or other program resources.
  • The pitch competition organizers reserve the right to restrict access to workshops/resources if participants do not adhere to the policies or miss submission deadlines.


Throughout the timeline, support will be offered to teams in the form of:

  • Various workshops related to the topics outlined below and networking opportunities. 
  • Office hours with Rana el Kaliouby Ph.D. and Teaching Fellows Lauren Moores Ph.D., and Marily Nika, Ph.D.

Phase 1: June 2021-January 2022 

  • Build the founding team utilizing Slack, networking events, and other program tools. Team members can be added up until submission of the initial pitch deck at the end of phase 1. Please note, a CEO/co-founder will remain the point of contact for the team for the duration of the process. 
  • Determine value creation and measurement. 
  • Identify problem space and market fit by performing market research, user interviews, and creating surveys. 
  • Consider human capital and recruitment efforts necessary for the new venture. 
  • Begin prototyping the solution.  
  • Build the pitch deck. Workshops will be offered to help teams create and perfect their pitch deck. 

Phase 2: January 2022-May 2022 

  • At the beginning of phase 2, teams may work with an assigned a mentor before submission of the final pitch deck. The pitch competition planning team will do their best to match each submission to a mentor with related expertise. 
  • Learn about intellectual property. In particular, the basics of patents, trademarks, and trade secrets, when to use a nondisclosure agreement and when not to.   
  • Learn about funding rounds, go-to-market, and various financial aspects of new ventures including forecasting and capital structures. 
  • Craft your pitch deck.
  • Submission of final pitch deck for finalist selection by May 23, 2022.
  • Selected teams will participate in practice pitch sessions with the pitch competition planning team. 

Final Pitch Ceremony will be held on June 25, 2022