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  Hellenic Business Network’s Business Idea Competition (HBN-BIC) Program  
What is the Hellenic Business Network Big Idea Competition (HBN-BIC)?
For Participants
For Volunteers
For Investors/Sponsors
For Judges
For Mentors/Speakers

What is the HBN Big Idea Competition?

The Hellenic Business Network Big Idea Competition (HBN-BIC) is an entrepreneurship competition that provides a forum for participants to translate their business ideas into viable business plans and create business ventures.

BIC was originally inspired by the successful MIT100K business plan competition. Over the years it has distinguished itself from other contest in the Boston area by providing a platform where anybody can participate and receive professional mentorship, thus setting its own culture of ‘accelerating entrepreneurship’.

What makes BIC so appealing:

  • Non-affiliated: whether you are a college student seeking opportunity beyond your coursework or an experienced professional looking for a transition you are welcome to attend and showcase your créativité.
  • Early start-up: Whether you conceived the idea singing in the shower, or have a professional approach to fill a current market void, our mentors and judges will help you unleash your ideas full potential.
    Even if you do not have a fully-formed idea you are encouraged to take advantage of the abundant team-building and networking opportunities BIC offers.
    You may be part of the winning team before you know it.

Why compete?

Where great ideas become real’, Participants receive mentorship and feedback by established entrepreneurs throughout the competition before their plans are judged by venture capitalists, angel investors and other experts. In previous years, winning teams in addition to receiving valuable experience and networking opportunities, have won up to $20,000 to help them launch their business venture.

Who can participate?

Everyone! The HBN-BIC follows the ancient Greek tradition of acceptance and meritocracy singularly focused on attracting and promoting great business ideas. There are no entry restrictions: everyone, regardless of race, citizenship, background, status or age is eligible to enter. The only constraint is that teams and their companies should not have already received significant external funds (over >$50K).

The competition is administered by the Hellenic Business Network (HBN), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in Boston, Massachusetts which promotes the business interests of Hellenes and Philhellenes in the US. Even though HBN may readily attract investors with a connection to Greece, there is no consideration or preference for Greek nationals as participants, sponsors, mentors or judges. The best business plan wins.

How does it work ?

The competition starts in November with a series of preparatory lecture events (eg. “How VC’s decide what to invest in?”, “Current Environment of Business Opportunities”) to ‘Warm Up’ the participants by offering guidance along with numerous networking and team-building opportunities.

Come December, participants are encouraged to submit a short idea summary. Although the submission of an Executive Summary Draft in December is optional, it is rewarded by guaranteeing feedback by a mentor as early as mid January. Later submissions will also be accepted but, the earlier you submit a summary the more mentorship feedback you will receive.

In early March, teams are required to submit an Executive Summary for the Semi-final phase. A number of summaries will be selected to proceed to the final phase, and invited to submit full business plans, stage oral presentations and attend interviews with judges. The competition culminates with the final awards in early May where 3 prizes will be handed out.


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For Participants

Sounds like fun but I don’t have an idea yet

You are encouraged to attend the specially designed team-formation/ networking events organized throughout the Fall, even if you do not yet have a business idea or a team.
You will have the opportunity to join a team to whose business concept you are attracted and with whose existing members you have a good chemistry.

At Hellenic Business Network (HBN), we're constantly looking for new ways to connect with you and provide services to you more effectively and efficiently. By adopting social media, we're making it easier for you to stay up-to-date with our news and activities. Please connect with us.

In addition, you can share ideas at HBN’s monthly NAW (Networking After Work) meetings, which take place every 3rd Thursday of the month in Boston, New York and San Francisco.

Finally, a list of resources, sample business plans, and tutorials is available at HBN-BIC Resources

How big should my team be?

Teams can be of any size. Typically, teams tend to have from three to seven members. You should feel free to enter a team with only one member, though we strongly urge you to take advantage of HBN-BIC’s networking resources to make the experience more rewarding. You can be a member of multiple teams however, it is important to keep in mind the commitment that is required to your team(s).

What are the judges looking for?

Successful business plans have to answer at least three basic questions: Why will this idea work? Why will this team succeed? Why do this now? In approaching your business plan, note the following criteria that investors often use to evaluate new ventures:

  • Growth potential/return on investment
  • Quality, breadth, commitment and suitability of team
  • Defensibility from competitors
  • Size of up-front capital investment
  • Time-to-market
  • Market leadership possibility
  • Future potential

How does judging work?

All Executive Business Summaries are read and rated by a set of judges and those which qualify are invited to submit full business plans (10-20 pages including all diagrams and graphs). The highest-rated plans are promoted to the next stage of the competition and judges select the finalists. Finalist teams then make a 15-20 minute oral presentation of their plan. A 10-minute Q&A with the judges will follow. Judges then select the winning team and the runner-up teams. All participants receive extensive expert feedback from the judges.

How does mentorship work?

Teams that submit a Draft Executive Summary (about 500 words) by the December deadline (to be provided) will receive feedback by, and be paired with, an experienced Mentor who can add value to your business idea, in January.

The earlier you submit the more likely you are to have at least 2-3 interactions with your assigned Mentor by the final submission of your business plan. Should you choose not to submit an early Draft you will still get a Mentor upon your Executive summary submission in March provided you advance to the BIC Finals.

What about intellectual property?

HBN-BIC urges you to confirm with advisors or legal counsel before submitting your business plan that any intellectual property described in your plan is protected. You should secure appropriate intellectual property filings and notices (patent, copyright, etc.) by the owning institution and/or individuals. The HBN-BIC also recommends that you determine in advance whether your plan describes a technology, invention, copyrightable work or other intellectual property possibly owned by your workplace or academic institution.

Is my idea protected by HBN?

Note that all judges, mentors and others who come in contact with your idea through HBN are under strict blanket Non-Disclosure Agreements. For more details please contact HBN-BIC@hbngroup.org.


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For Volunteers

How can I help?

The HBN Big Idea Competition is organized entirely by volunteers. We welcome more enthusiastic people to take part. Our volunteer needs vary and are summarized below.

Even if you are considering participating in the competition, you can still help. In most cases, organizers can later enter the competition, since most organizing jobs involve no contact with our judges.

HBN-BIC consists of five groups of volunteers, each with an assigned leader who sits on the HBN-BIC executive committee:

Handles communications, responsible for web site and intranet, and coordinates the organizers.
  Public Relations Publicizes the HBN-BIC in a targeted manner to specific groups of interest such as college and university affiliated Hellenic/Cypriot organizations as well as Entrepreneurial Clubs and Forums
  Event Planning Coordinates HBN-BIC events, such as team building dinners, speakers and workshops.
  Alumni & Mentor
Coordinates the Competition’s relationships with its alumni (past participants and winners) and the mentors who assist current entrant teams.
  Judging Coordinates the judging days and the creation of judging network.

If you are interested in volunteering, please contact the Lead Organizers at HBN-BIC@hbngroup.org.


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For Investors/Sponsors

Investor participation is fundamental in the operation of the HBN-BIC. Investors can watch the process and choose a team to fund during or after the final results of the competition. As an Investor in the HBN-BIC, you have the opportunity to become part of a competing or winning venture and ensure its success in the future. You also can have a say in its development, participate on its board of directors or negotiate an equity position or other return on investment plan.

There are also opportunities to sponsor the Competition itself. HBN-BIC accepts sponsorship to cover operating expenses. As a Sponsor, you recognize the value of interaction with the bright young entrepreneurs of the future. Several of the companies formed will require financial, consulting, legal and IT services and sponsoring the competition is ideal if your company wishes exposure to new markets. Sponsors can negotiate with the HBN-BIC sponsor liaison to determine their ideal level of involvement. Please contact Sponsor@hbngroup.org.

Investors can be Sponsors and vice versa, but it is important to note that their roles are different. For more information on becoming an Investor and/or Sponsor, please contact the Lead Organizers at HBN-BIC@hbngroup.org.


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For Judges

Judges are made up of a select group of dynamic professionals who dedicate time and skills during the year to evaluating plans and providing feedback. They can be divided into three general groups: venture capitalists and angel investors; successful entrepreneurs and professionals; and academics with expertise in the entrepreneurial process. Judges may have strong ties to HBN, but this is not a requirement.

If you are interested in being a Judge, please send short resume to our Lead Organizers at HBN-BIC@hbngroup.org who will follow up with more information and guidelines.


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For Mentors/Speakers

Mentorship is one of the most critical and rewarding ways to add value to a new venture. As a Mentor, you will have the opportunity to guide young entrepreneurs by helping them identify improvement opportunities and avoid potential pitfalls. You may help a current team through the competition process as well as the beginning stages of forming their company. This experience, which most find to be very fulfilling, will give you the option to get involved with a start-up at an early stage. Moreover, involvement with the HBN-BIC community will give you additional networking opportunities in a dynamic environment.

Mentorship for the BIC typically involves 2-3 interactions (at minimum once every month), once paired with a team. Past Mentors have usually managed feedback for 2 teams during the contest. More frequent interactions are encouraged; however, we understand your limited availability.

You can also impart valuable knowledge by becoming a speaker. We seek seasoned entrepreneurs and investors to speak at our events. If you’d like to share your knowledge as a mentor or speaker, please contact the Lead Organizers at HBN-BIC@hbngroup.org.


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HBN Big Idea Competition Events Schedule

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Download the HBN-BIC Brochure

Download the HBN-BIC Rules and Guidelines

Download the BigDeals Submission Guidelines Spring 2009


BIC - BigDeals Semi-Finalists - 2009

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