NVC Series: The Grand Opening

Why is everyone surveying his or her friends with exciting ideas?

Why does everyone with an entrepreneurial spark have dark eye circles lately?

What are they awaiting anxiously after those dark eye circles have faded?

What are they so excited about in the next few days?

How will investors grill them if they get in?

How will the ideas evolve into real businesses over time?

What is it like standing on the stage of the Finals?

It’s that exciting time again!

This year we decided to create a series of articles to share with you, in real time, what it is like to compete in the #1 university accelerator program across the nation – the Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge (NVC). The program has graduated more than 160 start-up companies still in operation today and created thousands of jobs for the economy. NVC companies have achieved more than $4 billion in mergers and exits, including Braintree, which acquired Venmo and was then later acquired by PayPal in 2013 for $800 million; Bump Technologies, which was acquired by Google in 2013; and GrubHub, which completed an IPO in April 2014.

Last year, I had the privilege to work with our WillowFlare team as one of the NVC finalists and all of us learned a lot through the competition. We hope this series will help you have a sneak peek of the excitement, frustration, love, stress, fun, and lessons-learned involved in this great event from the very beginning to its big final day. Although nothing we write could compare with the real experience once you are here, we hope it piques your curiosity and ignites the entrepreneurial spark deep inside when you join the Booth community.

The NVC process started a few weeks ago with the submission of the teams’ feasibility summaries: a short description of the business idea, management team, and future plan. Internal and external judges then select thirty teams out of this year’s 78 submissions to compete in the competition next quarter.

What is truly exciting is the variety in stages of the businesses and the broadness of industries represented. Some of them are purely ideas, while others may have real customers. If it’s anything like it was for us last year, everyone probably found themselves working hard through some sleepless nights to put together a team and the feasibility summary. Then, they anxiously await for the results of the selection to be announced.

This is what you can expect from our NVC Series. We are dividing the event into three stages:

  1. From now until the spring quarter begins, we will talk about our personal experience last year and feature some of the teams who submitted their feasibility summaries and made it past the first cut to the next round. And hopefully we will also provide some insight into how the decision was made to select the teams that will compete next round.
  2. The first 9 weeks of the spring quarter is when the actual competition takes place through two rounds of presentations for each team. We are aiming to show how teams work on their businesses and what they can learn from the experience.
  3. The NVC Finals comes the last week of the spring quarter, where 10 finalists will be selected to participate in the intense day-long event. This is the big day!

In the meantime, we will also share some examples of how the NVC graduates from previous years have evolved since then and how the NVC experience contributed to the current stage of their businesses.

Again, we are excited to “live broadcast” NVC for the first time and we hope you are too. Stay tuned!

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