Frequently Asked Questions

For Judges and Mentors

Judge and mentor registration opens on December 2, 2021. Learn more about registering for the competition here.
Mentors remotely review competition submissions and provide feedback to student teams via LivePlan, a business plan development platform, or through their preferred communication method (Zoom, Skype, email, phone, etc.) during the first round (early March) and second round (early April) of competition. Mentors can select their preferred category during registration.
On average, mentors are asked to provide feedback to 3 teams. During the first round, mentors will likely spend an average of 30 minutes reviewing each team's submission and providing feedback. In the second round, mentors will spend an average of 1-2 hours reviewing each team's submission (their full business plan) and providing feedback. Mentors can choose their preferred method of communication (video conference, email, commenting directly on the team's Liveplan template, or a combination of methods). Our mentors often find this work rewarding and return year after year to continue to guide student entrepreneurs through the process of developing their first business plans.
Judges attend the competition event held virtually on Friday, April 22. This all-day event includes two rounds of judging and a virtual awards ceremony. In the first round, judges will evaluate prerecorded three-minute pitch videos in their assigned category. In the final round, finalists will present live to judges. Each student team will field judges' questions, and then judges will convene to select first, second, and third place winners in their category.
Absolutely! Interested individuals can serve as a judge, a mentor, or both. In fact, many of our participants choose to mentor and judge.
We prefer that mentors work with teams within the same category, but mentors are welcome to identify more than one category that they would like to mentor in the event that there is a need for more mentors in a particular category. Because our presentation sessions run concurrently during Competition Day, judges are only able to serve in one category. During registration, we ask that you select all of the categories in which you have expertise in the event that additional coverage is needed in a particular session.
We provide rubrics on the day of the event. Here is an example.

For Competitors

No, but each team must have at least one member that meets both of the following requirements: 1. a current part-time, full-time, or postdoctoral student at any of the nine divisions of Johns Hopkins University during the current academic year. 2. a member of the venture's startup management team.
Yes. Each team must be limited to six presenters. Additional members can take part in the development of the business plan, but only six members total can register for the event and present on competition day. At least one team member on each team must meet the eligibility requirements.
Yes! However, if you will be your team's sole member, you must be a current part-time, full-time, or postdoctoral student at Johns Hopkins University.
Absolutely! However, teams are prohibited from submitting a venture that won 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place in a previous competition.
Registration is free of charge to all competitors.
Participants can submit a venture in any of our three categories: General Enterprise and Technology, Medical Technology & Life Sciences, or Sustainability Ventures.
All submissions must be new ventures. By "new," we mean ventures that are pre-profit and have less than $25,000 in outside investment funding as of August 2021. Ventures that have raised equity capital from sources other than the members of the student team or their friends and families before the current academic year, i.e., before August 2021 that exceeds $25,000, are excluded. However, both student and other team members may have worked on an idea or new technology in previous academic years or in the case of the student team members even prior to entering Johns Hopkins University, provided that their venture had no revenues and raised no outside equity capital prior to the current academic year.
Yes. Teams may submit distinct ventures in any or all of the three categories. Keep in mind, however, final round presentations in all categories are delivered in concurrently running sessions. On Competition Day, a team presenting more than one venture will need to identify members who can present on each venture in the event that the team's presentations are scheduled for the same time.
Mentors will provide feedback through Liveplan, a business plan development platform, in Stage 1 of the competition. HopStart staff will also review Stage 1 submissions to determine whether each team has sufficiently completed all sections of its business plan. All teams will be notified of their eligibility to compete in Stage 2 (Competition Day) on April 4, 2022. On Competition Day, judges will rate prerecorded pitch videos in Round 1. Ratings will determine finalists in each category. In Round 2, judges will evaluate finalists' live presentations using a rubric (please find an example here). This rubric is meant to provide general guidance to judges during deliberations. Winners are selected based on a combination of rubric scores and discussion at the conclusion of the presentations.
HopStart staff will evaluate Stage 1 submissions to ensure they are complete and developed enough for presentation on Competition Day (Stage 2). All competing teams will be notified on Monday, April 4 about whether they will move onto Competition Day (April 22).
All competitors are strongly encouraged to attend the entire event, regardless of their status after the first round of competition. We are working to provide networking opportunities with judges (whether those opportunities will be virtual or in person depends on the current university event guidelines in place at the time of the competition).
In each category, winning teams receive $5,000 for 1st place, $3,000 for 2nd place, and $1,000 for 3rd place.
Teams have full control over the distribution of prize money. Prizes are awarded through Hopkins' vendor payment process, and prize recipients receive 1099s in January for tax purposes. This is important to keep in mind when deciding on how your team will receive its prize money.
Do not hesitate to contact us with any questions by email at hopstart@jhu.edu.