42nd INSEAD Venture Competition
The Rudolf and Valeria Maag INSEAD Centre for Entrepreneurship
Empowering entrepreneurs to build new businesses
The INSEAD Venture Competition (IVC) is the flagship entrepreneurship experience for all current degree programme participants. This twice a year event represents a natural and exciting step in the development of INSEAD entrepreneurial students’ ventures, allowing them to pitch their start-up concept and business model. Throughout the multi-stage competition, students are immersed in a supportive yet rigorous environment to develop and showcase their venture ideas. Through extensive coaching and feedback from seasoned entrepreneurs and investors, participants gain valuable knowledge and experience on how to launch a start-up.
Thanks to our generous supporters, the prize purse for the 42nd IVC includes €70K in seed funding as well as valuable in-kind support from AWS, Freshworks, MOHARA, Loyal.vc and more. Visit Prizes & Supporters for full details.
Submissions will be accepted until 8 March 2021. Don’t miss out on a chance to participate in this exciting experience! For some tips on how to prepare your submission, watch our information session below.
Dates to remember
The IVC is a rigourous three stage competition which culminates with the top six teams pitching to a panel of judges for seed funding and various prizes. Judges will use a scoresheet with elements found under the IVC Criteria as a guide for judging each entry.
Stage 1: Call for entry – Team registration & venture summary submission
Registration opens: 8 February 2021
Submission deadline: 8 March 2021, 09:00 CET / 15:00 SGT
Announcement of Semi-Finalists: 6 April 2021
- Teams to submit their venture summaries (up to 4 pages + 1 optional cover page).
- Submissions evaluated by pool of judges from the INSEAD Entrepreneurs-in-Residence programme. At least four judges will assess each venture summary.
- Judges will select the top 12 most compelling ventures to progress to the semi-finals.
Stage 2: Submission of full venture plan / Semi-finals
Due date for venture plans: 5 May 2021, 09:00 CET / 15:00 SGT
IVC Semi-finals: Wednesday, 26 May 2021 – Semi-finalists will pitch via Zoom (more info to follow)
- Semi-finalists to submit full venture plan (maximum 15 pages, including exhibits and appendices).
- Teams will be assigned 2 mentors and have access to IVC Chairperson for guidance.
- Teams will have a total of 12 minutes (5 mins pitch / 7 mins Q&A) to present to judges. Judges will select up to six top teams to advance to the final.
Stage 3: Revised venture plan (optional) / Finals
Due date for revised venture plans: 3 June 2021, 09:00 CET / 15:00 SGT
IVC Finals: Wednesday, 9 June 2021 – Finalists will pitch via Zoom (more info to follow)
- Finalists have the option to submit revised venture plans based on feedback received.
- Finalists will have a total of 17 minutes (7 mins + 10 mins Q&A) to pitch their ventures to judges who will select the top 3 ventures.
- Mentoring and Practice Pitches will be organised for teams in the Semifinals and Final rounds.
- Teams which do not advanced to the second stage are eligible to request a mentor/advisor to continue developing the venture idea.
- The Final will be made available online after the competition, and all documents and materials may be referenced in future INSEAD MBA courses and as examples for future IVCs.
Know the rules!
The IVC is an INTERNAL competition open only to current INSEAD degree programmes including MBA, GEMBA, TIEMBA, MIM, and MFin participants. Teams must have an INSEAD participant who will assume the primary role to develop the venture plan and pitch to the judges. The member would also have a significant role, as a founder/co-founder, should the team win the competition. A panel of distinguished judges comprising of venture capitalists, angel investors and/or entrepreneurs will designate the prize and award winners of the competition.
- Maximum of 6 members. Each member can only participate in the submission of ONE ENTRY to the competition. Multiple entries are not allowed. Team members who are non-INSEAD are admissible.
- Venture ideas should come from the INSEAD degree programme participants. They should also be the ones to prepare most of the business plan, pitch deck and deliver the presentation. During the semifinals and finals, external team members can only participate in the Q&A sessions.
- Changes to team members are allowed up until the semifinalist’s submission of the venture plan. The ICE admin must be informed of any changes made.
- Winners of past IVC are NOT to participate in the competition with the same venture idea. However, members who have participated and did not win a prize may compete with the same venture idea but should show significant highlights of growth made over the last competition.
- New venture is defined as not formed, in operation or incorporated earlier than 12 months at the time of the competition's “Call for Entry”.
- There are no restrictions regarding business sector other than the business activities must be legal. Social-oriented ventures are admissible and encouraged.
Confidentiality & IP Protection
- IVC participants are responsible for any information that they share as part of the competition. The INSEAD Centre for Entrepreneurship (ICE) takes no responsibility for unwanted or unintended disclosure of protectable ideas or content shared by the participants or teams. It is advisable for participants to seek their own legal counsel if they have any questions regarding the protection of their ideas or content.
- Entrants to the competition must agree to make their venture summaries and plans available for INSEAD’s pedagogical purposes. Videos of finalists’ presentations will be uploaded and made available online after each competition.
- The Executive Committee of the INSEAD Centre for Entrepreneurship reserves the rights to update these rules at any time.
Only for Winners - Claim of prize monies
- The winning team members are responsible amongst themselves for any agreements, ownership rights, change in team members and engagements before, during and after the competition.
- The newly incorporated company, as presented during the IVC, must have at least an INSEAD team member(s) as founders or co-founders on the company’s documents.
- The company is to be incorporated legally (anywhere in the world), within six months after the official IVC prize announcement. The company must have an official bank account with the necessary bank details. No disbursement of funds will be made to individual founding members.
- IVC admin team should be informed, in advance via email, should there be any changes in the company's name or team members before the claim of the prize money.
The judges will determine the winners using a combination of raw scores, rankings and any other means that they deem appropriate at the time. Feedback is encouraged and given to teams throughout the various stages. Such feedback may or may not fully represent all factors considered by the judging panel when determining the winners of any prize.
Winner - Thomas C. Barry Prize: €40,000 seed funding
- + 30 days development support from MOHARA
- + USD25,000 AWS Activate Package
- + USD10,000 Freshworks credit across all products
- + Automatic berth in the summer NAA UK entrepreneurs group business angel event
- + Automatic berth in the Angel Club @ IAA Germany pitch event
- + Bespoke introduction and access to leading investors in your choice of Europe (Central Europe, Eastern Europe and/or Israel), the UK, the US (Silicon Valley and/or New York), and Asia (Singapore and/or Hong Kong). The offer is open to the winning team, either the team collectively or the team members individually.
- + USD10,000 investment from Loyal.vc
Runner-Up: €20,000 seed funding
- + 10 days development support from MOHARA
- + USD25,000 AWS Activate Package
- + USD10,000 Freshworks credit across all products
Patrick Turner MBA'78 Prize: €10,000 seed funding
- + USD25,000 AWS Activate Package
- + USD10,000 Freshworks credit across all products
Our distinguished supporters
We are indebted to our generous INSEAD alumni, friends and partners for their gifts and time to support the IVC.
- Rudolf Maag MBA'73
- Thomas C. Barry
- Chaitanya Kalipatnapu MBA’06D; through this gift, he would like to pay tribute to his grandfather, Kondiah Kalipatnapu, for fuelling the entrepreneurship spirit
- Neil Raymond MBA’98J and Pacific Prime
- Ben Ling GEMBA’16A
- All alumni and friends of INSEAD who donated to the Patrick Turner MBA’78 Memorial Fund
- Ben Blomerley MBA'11J and MOHARA
- National Alumni Association UK Entrepreneurs Group Business Angel
- Ian Brown, IEP’00
- Amazon Web Services
- Joe Ross and Ideas on Stage
- Angel Club @ IAAG (INSEAD Alumni Association in Germany)
The IVC is an internal INSEAD competition open to current INSEAD MBA, EMBAs (GEMBA and or/TIEMBA), MFIN and MIM students.
For the first round, participants are required to submit a 4-page venture summary along with name(s) of team member(s). Each team is allowed a minimum of one member and maximum of six members.
To access the registration page, you will need to use your INSEAD email account and password. If you are denied access to the site, kindly check the rules on your eligibility. If you have issues with your login, please send your request to the INSEAD IT Service Desk.
Please note that to register for the IVC, you must have your venture summary ready to upload.
The deadline to submit an application to the 42nd IVC will be Monday, 8 March at 09:00 CET / 15:00 SGT. No late submissions will be accepted.
42nd IVC Semi-finals
Up to twelve teams will be selected to present to a panel of 5 judges. More information will be provided to the teams nearer the date. Each team will have a maximum of 5 minutes for presentation and another 7 minutes Q&A from the judges.
42nd IVC Final
Up to six teams will present to a panel of judges. Each team will have 7 minutes for presentation follow by another 10 minutes for Q&A, a total of 17 minutes. All presentations will be videotaped and may be used in future INSEAD MBA electives.
Criteria & Judges' profiles
Throughout all three stages, judges will be provided with a scoresheet based on the elements below as a guide to evaluate the team's venture summary, business plan or pitch. Cash prizes awarded to teams, in the judges' opinion, offer the best combination of business potential, credible founder(s), and likelihood of successful implementation.
Summary & Venture plan requirement
Elements to consider and include when crafting your summary or plan:
- Team: quality of team and fit with the idea; credentials to show a capability to take on specific roles and responsibilities; advisory board, strategy partners;
- Execution Plan: clear and believable path forward; know what must be done and how; timeline and execution plan
- Financials: business model; financial forecasts & valuation; funding required and for what purpose
- First round - Structure of Venture Summary: clarity and quality of writing; structure and sequence of ideas; the document reads well
- Semifinals & Final - Presentation & Structure of Plan: clarity and quality of writing; structure and sequence of ideas; presentation slides; Verbal presentation/Q&A
- Innovation & Value Proposition: original/innovative idea; solves a problem for customers; must-have vs. nice-to-have; feasible, marketable, profitable
- Market Opportunity & Strategy: potentially large/fast growing market; niche identification; competitor and customer analysis; effective strategy
- Sustainable Competitive Advantage: sustainability; differentiation from competitors; IP strategy
- Product & Services: clear product/service/platform description; offering is superior to competitors; addresses actual customer needs
- Potential to invest in this idea: credibility and persuasiveness; venture has merit and will create value; understanding of entrepreneurship; demonstrates industry knowledge
- Viability: Long-term survival; sustainable profits or business model
IVC Chairperson & Judges
42nd IVC Final on Wednesday, 9 June 2021
Ben Ling, GEMBA16A, IVC Chairperson
Founder/CEO of Equilibria Hotels & Properties
Frequently asked questions
Can I participate if I am not an INSEAD student?
The IVC is an internal competition mainly for current INSEAD students. The objective is to help them accelerate an idea during their course of study and subsequently create a new venture upon graduation.
Is there a minimum or maximum number of team members allowed on a venture’s team?
Teams may have a minimum of 1 and maximum of 6 members. Involvement of external members from outside INSEAD degree programme is allowed up to maximum of 2 members.
I am an exchange student at INSEAD but would like to take part. Can I participate in the IVC?
The competition is open to current students of the INSEAD degree programme. As an exchange student, you may ask to join in a current student’s team but will not be allowed to pitch during the semifinals or final round.
Can I participate in multiple teams?
Each person can only participate in the submission of one team to the IVC. Being a member in multiple teams is not allowed. However, if your venture does not advance past the first round, you may join a semifinals team if you are asked.
If I register to participate, may I withdraw from the competition later on? At what point am I fully committed to the competition?
If you should wish to withdraw at any point, please inform us immediately.
Do you only accept a 4-page venture summary at the first stage or will a first version of the business plan be acceptable? What criteria will the judges use to evaluate my submission?
The first stage of the competition requires teams to submit only the 4-page venture summary. Judges will evaluate these summaries based on a set of elements provided in a score sheet. You may find the general guide under Judges & Criteria.
Are participants allowed to participate after graduation?
INSEAD alumni are allowed to participate as part of an existing student’s team. They will not be allowed to pitch to judges but can participate during the Q&A.
I am working on developing an idea with an external company, founders of whom are not INSEAD students. If I am playing an active role in the development of the business, am I able to apply?
You are eligible to participate as long as your business idea is less than a year from the point when the "Call for Entry" is announced. Your team members can be external partners or non-INSEAD participants but they will not be allowed to pitch to judges during the semifinals and final round of the competition.
I had already participated in the previous competition with no success. Can I participate again with the same project?
If your venture did not win a prize in any of the previous IVCs, you are eligible to apply again with the same project.
I have a reasonably mature business idea that I would like to present for the competition. Can I register my business idea if my company is not yet incorporated?
The IVC is restricted to new ventures. As long as you have not yet incorporated the business, you are eligible to register for the competition
Is the company’s incorporation a requisite at present time or only in the case when the venture is awarded a monetary prize?
The criterion to incorporate the company within 6 months only applies to award winners after the competition.
We are in the midst of recruitment, assignments and classes. Is it possible to extend the IVC summary/plan submission past the deadline?
The competition is intense and all deadlines are fixed. No exceptions to the deadlines will be made.
Are there any specifications for the documents of the business plans (font size, margins and spacing)? Should it be a Word or PowerPoint file?
So long as the font size is no smaller than 8 and it fits into the maximum 15 pages, inclusive of exhibits and appendices, there is no set format on how you should present your plan. We encourage you to be creative and make the business plans easy and engaging to read.
Is there a dress code for the presentation?
There is no particular dress code but our suggestion is to dress smart since you are presenting to panel of judges/and or audience who may be your potential investor.
We are part of the IVC team and although very interested with all the projects, we were just wondering whether if it would be possible to attend at a specific time so as not to miss our class.
It is fine for you or any of your fellow classmates to drop in any time whilst the competition is ongoing. We do understand that your classes take priority. However please be mindful when entering the Amphi or Auditorium, especially when a team is presenting, to avoid loud noise and minimise disruption.
Mentors & Resources
Our Entrepreneurs-in-Residence (EIR) volunteer their time on campus and online to share their expertise and provide students with direct feedback on entrepreneurial topics in all stages of the entrepreneurship journey. We currently have over 160 entrepreneurs who cover a wide range of domains and industries. Have a one-on-one conversation with them to get advice on your startup and learn about what it is like living an entrepreneurial life.
Quote: “Point of view of people who have been through the process of starting up ventures, being in the position of running and growing a small company. Sincere feedback on improvement areas. Genuine interest in our project and networking opportunities.”
INSEADAlum Ventures Pte Ltd (“IAV”) is a investment company focused on providing seed funding, value-added resources and mentorship to selected INSEAD alumni who are becoming entrepreneurs after graduation. IAV is founded by two INSEAD Alumni with successful track records as entrepreneurs and investors; Deepak Shahdadpuri (MBA‘98D) and William Klippgen (MBA‘03D). IAV will invest from SGD $50k to $200k in each start-up and will help develop the start-ups to a point where they easily can raise further seed or Series A funding.
INSEAD Angels (Asia), an alumni investment club, provides early-stage seed minority investment to high-calibrate start-ups where the founder or co-founder is an INSEAD alum. The club encompasses alumni with diversity of thought and experience. They balance their vision on three pillars: i) funding and mentoring for the entrepreneurs, ii) returns for the investors, and iii) contributing portion of the returns to INSEAD.
Amazon Web Services provides startups with low cost, easy to use infrastructure needed to scale and grow any size business. AWS Activate is a program with resources designed to help startups get started on AWS. Join some of the fastest-growing startups in the world and build your business using AWS.
Freshworks is one of the fastest-growing unicorns backed by Google Capital, Accel, Sequoia, Tiger Global with $400M funding, valued at $3.5Bn+. They're a leading maker of the cloud-based customer and employee engagement software based in San Mateo, California. INSEAD startups get up to $4000 in credits on the Freshworks suite of products! Boost your startup journey with leading customer and employee engagement solutions from Freshworks including CRM, LiveChat, Support, Marketing automation, Project Management, and HRMS. Priority access to Freshworks startup program including, events, resources, workshops, and much more. Check out an introduction video here.
Map of Money, a Singaporean-based platform to connect amazing entrepreneurs to great investors in Southeast Asia. Co-founder and INSEAD EiR, Arnaud Bonzom shares some answers to common questions on resources for the Venture Capital Industry composed of 16 sections and 500+ resources.
MOHARA is a global product, technology and venture development specialist who partner with startups and corporates, with offices based in London (HQ), Brighton, Bangkok, Cape Town and Dallas. New and existing businesses make the same innovation mistakes every day - technology is the end game, not the starting point. Without laying the right foundations to truly innovate, businesses expose themselves to problems like poor product-market fit, little return on investment and negative perceptions of innovation. MOHARA has a proven process to help you create, launch and scale innovative technology products.