Tufts $100k New Ventures Competition

Questions For Applicants

Application and Judging

Can I preview the questions in the written application with video link?
How far along in my venture do I need to be in order to apply?

You can apply at any stage of your venture, however, most of the applicants in prior years tend to have been working on their venture for a while. We would like to see evidence that you have done market research to validate your hypotheses, and you should have a clear proposal for a solution that solves the problem you outlined as well as a good understanding of how it is different and better. We also want you to have a go to market strategy and have thought through the business model and financial aspects.


Do I need to have a working prototype of my solution?

Not exactly. It depends on the type of venture. If you are developing a mobile app, we would expect you to have at least some level of wireframes to illustrate your idea. If you are developing a biotech venture, say, an organ-on-chip for testing drugs that need to get past the blood-brain barrier, we expect you to have the science figured out as well as a plan for how to turn that into a product – but we certainly do not expect to see a working prototype.

Why can’t I apply if I have raised over $250,000?
The $100k New Ventures Competition is designed to help new ventures accelerate their progress through educational workshops, coaching and for the winners, equity-free grant funding. If you have already raised $250,000, you are likely far beyond the stage of development of most other applicants. It would not be fair to have judges compare their ventures with yours which probably has seen much more traction.
Can I apply again if I was part of a winning team in the past?

Applicants who were part of a winning team in the past may re-apply as part of a new team that has not won a prize in the $100k competition in a previous year.

Can I apply as part of multiple teams?
Applicants can be on multiple teams up to the semi-final stage, but can only move into the finals on 1 team.
Who are the judges and how is the judging process managed?

For fairness, judges are drawn from the community and are not involved in the screening process or the coaching process. DEC faculty and staff may serve as coaches, MC’s and facilitators, but will not be a part of the selection process for semi-finalists or finalists.

Judges will hear the pitches, ask questions, and then spend 1 minute entering their scores and notes after each pitch before moving on to the next pitch. After all teams have pitched, judges will meet in a separate judging session to deliberate verbally about the teams and to pick 4 to 5 teams out of each track to advance to the final round. The winners will then be announced in-plenary.


Why are there three tracks to the $100k?

Tufts University is an incredibly diverse place with 11 schools and colleges. Its students and alumni have interests in many areas, from enterprise software to biotech startups to social enterprises in emerging markets. We created the tracks to allow teams, judges and audience members with different interests to work together on those areas of interest. 

Are there differences in the application and judging rubric on a track-by-track basis?

The spirit of the main application and rubric is the same across all three tracks. Screeners and judges in each track will evaluate each application and pitch within their own industry norms, which can be very different across industry sectors. For example, a mobile app for line-cutting in nightclubs is very different from a venture featuring a biosynthesis process, which in turn is very different from a non-profit battling a United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) in an emerging market. Screeners and judges will adapt their interpretation of the rubric to each application’s industry sector and business type as needed.

Who should enter the General Track?

New ventures or businesses that are not primarily associated with Healthcare and Life Sciences or with Social Impact. Previous finalists and winners have come from diverse industries, from robotics and AI to business-to-business (b2B) enterprise marketplaces to event ticketing platforms and a new makeup brand.

Who should enter the Healthcare & Life Science Track?

Businesses with a focus on medical, health, and wellness topics. This includes Dental, Veterinary, Biomedical, and Nutrition-focused businesses.

Who should enter the Social Impact Track?

Businesses with a mission to create and sustain social value. Businesses that benefit society and promote active citizenship. A significant part of the venture is dedicated to one or more of the following: creating a positive social impact, improving living conditions, upward economics or social mobility, or environmental impact. Social Ventures can be not-for-profit, for-profit or hybrid.


Money and Prizes

How do I claim my prize?

Winners should contact Carol Denning at the Derby Entrepreneurship Center to claim their prize. Winners must claim their prize by June 1 of the year following the competition. If a team is unable to collect by this date, a formal request for an extension must be approved. Approval will be on a case by case basis.

Do I need to incorporate in order to collect my prize?
We do not recommend teams to incorporate until they have had serious conversations about founders’ roles and responsibilities, commitments and contributions. Most applicants to the $100k are not far enough along in their venture for the co-founders to have had these conversations. Incorporating this early locks in a founder equity split that may result in an emotionally charged conversation later on when the founders have had time to work out their personal circumstances, which may change how they are able to contribute.

Having said that, if the venture already is set up as an entity, we will be able to issue a check to that entity.

How is the money divided among team members?
Each team is responsible for deciding how they will divide the prize money among themselves. We do not regulate the use of funds. We strongly urge all teams to have this conversation before applying, so you go in with clear expectations. It is very difficult to have this conversation after the fact.
Can I add or remove team members after I submit my application?
While we understand that startup teams can be very fluid, we ask that you do not change your core team’s composition for the $100k once you submit your application. If you must change the team composition, we need to see a written agreement signed by all team members explaining who is added/removed and why.

Event Format

What is the format of the 2024 events?

The semi-final and final events in 2024 will be held in-person / hybrid and will both follow this format:

  • Presentations will be predominantly in person, although we may also have alumni teams presenting virtually on an as-needed basis. We strongly encourage presenters to travel to Medford to present in person if at all practical.
  • Judges and audience members will be in-person and remote. 
  • Everyone start at the Main Stage for the kickoff. There will be a dedicated Zoom link for the Main Stage for remote joiners.
  • The audience, presenters, and judges for each track will then move to a different room per track. Each track will also have its own Zoom link. 
  • After all teams have completed their presentations, there will be a networking session for in-person presenters and audience members while judges deliberate.
  • Finalists and winners will be announced at the Main Stage and also streamed via Zoom at the designated time.
Why is the event not held solely in-person?

The Tufts $100k Competition is open to all students at Tufts (across 4 campuses in Massachusetts) as well as to alumni who graduated within the past 5 years. Many of them no longer live within commuting distance of Medford. In addition, COVID is a consideration – if a participant tests positive, they will not be able to come in person.

We strive to maximize equitable access to entrepreneurial learning opportunities, including these types of competitions. At the same time, the electric energy of an in-person event is transformative and inspirational. After careful consideration, we have decided to bring our event back as a predominantly in-person event with a Zoom option for presenters, judges, and audience members.


What is the best way to watch the event?

The best way to watch the event is to join us in the Joyce Cummings Center. However we understand that this is not always practical, so we will make every effort to make it possible for remote audiences to join by Zoom and still be able to support our teams as they deliver their live pitches.

How would I know where to go with three tracks running simultaneously?

There will be way finding signage in the event space during the Semifinals and Finals events. For remote joiners, there will be event landing pages with clear instructions to help you navigate the tracks.

For presenters

How will you communicate with presenters during the event?

During the event the primary way organizers will communicate with presenters in real time is within the locked channels on Slack for the $100k tracks.  It is of utmost importance that all team members accept the Slack workspace invitation and join the locked channels so we have a way to reach you during the day of the event outside Zoom.

I am an alumni who is presenting from another location. How might I present a great pitch on Zoom?
If the primary presenter runs into trouble, the organizer will wait a little and if the situation does not improve, we will move on to the next team and return to you after all teams have presented to give you time to recover.

If you know you will be in a place with spotty WiFi, consider calling in with a cellular line and having a teammate present your slides for you OR send us our slides and have us display and advance them for you.

I am an alumni who is presenting remotely. What if I lose power or WiFi?
If the primary presenter runs into trouble, the organizer will wait a little and if the situation does not improve, we will move on to the next team and return to you after all teams have presented to give you time to recover.

If you know you will be in a place with spotty WiFi, consider calling in with a cellular line and having a teammate present your slides for you OR send us our slides and have us display and advance them for you.

I am an alumni who is presenting remotely. Can I advance my own slides?
Yes, the presenter will be allowed to share slides.
What happens if we get Zoom bombed?
If we do indeed get Zoom bombed, the first step we will take is to pause the event and use a built in Zoom Security feature to suspend all activities. This will immediately stop screen sharing and annotation and turn off audio and video for all participants, as well as disable chat. At that point organizers will work to identify and remove the Zoom bomber from the meeting. During this time, which can last several minutes, we will not have video or sound. Once we have taken care of the offender we will allow video and audio sharing again and resume the event.