New Ventures at the Gordon Institute | Tufts University
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Organized by the Tufts Entrepreneurship Center, this annual competition draws entries from alumni, faculty, staff, and undergraduate and graduate students from all ten schools across the university. Teams compete for prizes and in-kind services totaling more than $100,000 in three tracks:

  • General or High Tech Track
  • Social Entrepreneurship Track
  • Medical Devices & Life Science Track

Tufts $100k New Ventures Competition – Live Finals took place on April 5, 2019

Spotlight on Diane Hessan Diane Hessan

Diane was the 2019 recipient of the Tufts Legends of Innovation & Entrepreneurship Award, and delivered the Shapiro Lecture during the $100k New Ventures Competition.

Diane Hessan is a successful entrepreneur, researcher and author.  She is the founder and Chairman of C Space, formerly Communispace, which was the first company to build online communities for market research, back in 2000. Diane was CEO of the company during 14 years of exponential growth, as C Space worked with hundreds of global brands to gain insight and inspiration from their consumers.  A serial entrepreneur, Diane has consolidated all of her investment and advisory work into a new company called Salient Ventures, which will help accelerate the next generation of growth companies in tech. 

Most recently, Diane has researched voters across the U.S – first for the Clinton Campaign and now on her own.  Diane has personally interviewed nearly 1000 voters from all states, ages and ends of the political spectrum, and is now online with them weekly as she looks for trends, shifts, and common ground.  She has appeared on many national and local television shows, and writes regular Op-Eds about voter sentiment.

She has also led two companies in the education space, as CEO of Startup Institute, which helps young professionals develop the 21st-century skills they need to succeed – and as EVP of The Forum Corporation, a large training and development company, where she led sales, marketing, operations, product, and technology until the company’s sale to Pearson.

Diane co-authored the book Customer-Centered Growth: Five Strategies for Building Competitive Advantage, a Business Week best-seller that is published in 11 languages.  She has keynoted over 50 events in the last five years, focusing on leadership, entrepreneurship, women’s issues, and customer centricity.

Diane has received many honors, including the Pinnacle Award from the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, the Most Admired CEO award and Boston Power 50 awards from the Boston Business Journal, Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year (National Finalist), the Northstar Award from Springboard, the Great Boston Chamber of Commerce Entrepreneur of the Year, and a range of Best Boss citations.  In 2014, she was inducted into the Babson Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs and she received the Asper Award for Global Entrepreneurship from Brandeis.  C Space also has won many major awards – both for innovation, technology and impact -- in the market research arena. In 2018, Diane received honorary doctorates from Bentley University and the New England College of Business.

Diane serves on the boards of Panera, Eastern Bank, Brightcove, Tufts University, Mass Challenge, CoachUp, and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and is Special Advisor to Datapoint Capital, a leading early-stage venture firm.  In 2017, the Boston Globe appointed her to its Editorial Board. She received her M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and her B.A. in Economics from Tufts University. She has 2 grown daughters, and is also founder of The Sound Bytes, an a cappella group that sings about business.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who should enter the General or High-Tech Track of the New Ventures Competition?

New ventures or businesses geared towards creating value in the private high-technology or other sectors not classified as Life Sciences or Social Entrepreneurship.

Who should enter the Social Track of the New Ventures Competition?

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 non-for-profit, for-profit or hybrid.

Who should enter the Medical / Life Science Track of the New Ventures Competition?

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

How do I enter the competition?

The entry window for 2019 is now closed. Please check back in the winter to submit your business for next year's competition.

If you have questions, please contact Carol Denning, Program Administrator, Tufts Entrepreneurship Center.

Eligibility for the Tufts $100k New Ventures Competition

Applicants to the Tufts $100k New Ventures Competition must have actively participating executive or founding team members in major roles who are one, or more, of the following:

  • Matriculated Tufts University undergraduate student
  • Matriculated Tufts University graduate student
  • Full-time Tufts University Postdoc, Research Fellow or Resident
  • Tufts University faculty
  • Full-time Tufts University staff
  • Tufts University recently graduated alumnus (must have graduated from Tufts University within the last 5 years)

Non-Tufts team members. Non-Tufts team members may be part of the venture’s management team and may participate in planning the venture.  However, the Tufts team member(s) are expected to:

  • Be the driving force behind the new venture
  • Hold an executive role in the venture
  • Own significant equity in the venture

Applicants are only allowed to move into the final $100k Competition on 1 team. Applicants can be on multiple teams up to the semi-final stage, but can only move into the finals on 1 team. 

How do I claim my prize?

Winners should contact Tufts Entrepreneurship Center to claim their prize. It is recommended that winners claim their prize as soon as possible, preferably within 6 months of the competition. Please note that winners are required to claim their prize within 1 year of winning the competition. If a team is unable to collect within the year, a formal request for an extension must be approved. Approval will be on a case by case basis.

2018 Winners
2017 Winners
2016 Winners
2015 Winners