"Start-up", once a buzzword, has become mainstream in the business schools around the world. While the notion"Entrepreneurship cannot be taught"; may be true, a lot of people still struggle with the execution of the idea, which is at par, if not, more important than the genesis of idea itself. That is where New Venture Challenge ("NVC") comes in.
There is a complete website dedicated to NVC (http://research.chicagobooth.edu/nvc/), and I will try to steer clear of the details stated on the website. NVC helps lay the foundation for execution, and provides a structure and framework to test the waters with the right industry experts, thereby helping convert a BHAG ("BigHairy Audacious Goal" for the non-consultants) to reality. NVC helps refine or pivot an original idea, which can sometimes be crude, which only increases your chances to succeed.
While winning the challenge does matter and I hear comments such as "My idea is not sexy enough to win because it deals with some pharmaceutical drug testing", NVC is equally about networking as it is about winning. Networking, another clichéd but extremely important buzzword when it comes to start-ups, especially with all the noise in the start-up world, it could potentially help with getting your voice heard. From the Professors facilitating the class to the judges and students in the class, you are either directly in contact with or a contact away from almost anyone in any industry to speak to.
I certainly can't speak to the winning criteria, however, "Mouse House" won the competition in 2012, and there is nothing sexier than tracking health of rats in labs. Being at one of the best business schools, success does matter to some if not most of us, and if I were to share one tip on that, it would be "Traction" You may not need to have paying customers, however, you absolutely have to show progress, and demonstrate your ability to carry forward the idea.
I sometimes hear people are apprehensive of joining the challenge because of the fear that their idea may get stolen. While there are no guarantees that it can't happen, it is likely that yours is not the only instance of that particular idea. However, you are on one of the best platforms to accelerate the growth and execution of your idea, and that could be the differentiating and determining factor for success.
Ravit Ansal | Weekend MBA student