By yesterday afternoon, approximately 50 students had requested entry applications.
"In terms of what HSA is doing, I think this is a fantastic idea," Andrew G. W. Chung '99 said. "I think a lot of students are interested in entrepreneurship...Very few people actually think about the steps necessary to fulfill that dream, and I think this is a very good motivation."
Chung declined to disclose details of his contest entry but said it "had to do with re-engineering what goes on in the medical profession" using information technology.
"It's something I thought of this summer, and I thought about making my own business plan," Chung said. "This contest gave me some pressure to do it."
Members of the Harvard Entrepreneurs Club praised the HSA contest. "We're excited because it's great for entrepreneurship on campus," said Mitchell B. Weiss '98, vice president of the club. "It's something we would have liked to do but we don't have the resources HSA has."
Financing the Contest
Funding for the competition was provided by several corporations, including Fidelity Investments--the principal sponsor--as well as the Boston Consulting Group, Mercer Madison Consulting and the Mitchell Madison Group.
John Rehm, vice president of Fidelity, said that sponsoring the competition was "a big priority" for his company.
The entries will be judged blindly by representatives from the sponsor companies, venture capitalists and other professionals. Judging will be based on the likelihood of commercial success, the technical and managerial feasibility of the business and how the expectations of the business plans match reality.
Both big business and small business ventures should fare equally well, Tiwari said. "There's really no limit to the scope or size of the project."
Entries in last year's HBS competition ranged from "an enhanced international facsimile service to a salt mine in the Soviet Union, to retail stores, restaurants and Internet marketing companies," said Michael J. Roberts '79, executive director of entrepreneurial studies at HBS.
Entries in the new contest that make it past an initial round of judging in November will advance to a second phase of competition: a live presentation to judges.
Three finalists will be announced in mid-January. The winner will be declared on February 4, 1998.
To protect contestants whose entries hinge on proprietary information or technology that could offer a strategic advantage in the marketplace, HSA has promised to "ensure the protection of sensitive materials introduced and associated with the Contest," according to the contest guidelines.
In the past, several Harvard graduate students have participated and won in the MIT $50K, which boasts the largest prizes of collegiate entrepreneurship competitions: $30,000 plus expert advice for the winning team.
Although this is the inaugural year for the Harvard contest, Tiwari is confident that it will continue. "We already have organizations interested in funding it next year," he said.
The deadline for the five page proposal is October 31. Prospective contestants can pick up entry forms on the second floor of the HSA office at 67 Mt. Auburn