HopStart: Hopkins New Venture Challenge recruits alumni, industry leaders, venture capitalists, and entrepreneurs to serve as judges and mentors in order to simulate the real-world process of soliciting start-up funds from early-stage investors.


Mentors provide remote feedback during the first stage of the competition in either the General Ventures or Medical Technology and Life Science Ventures category using the business plan development platform LivePlan. Mentorship is flexible and can be completed anywhere. Mentors can choose their preferred communication method and review their teams’ materials at their convenience within the mentorship feedback windows.

Mentors guide HopStart teams by evolving their business ideas, helping to shape their plans, and providing feedback on pitches. On average, mentors spend between 1 and 2 hours mentoring in Round 1 and 3 to 5 hours engaging with mentees in Round 2. This year, we have added a pitch review mentorship window in mid-April, which should take between 30 minutes to 1 hour to complete.

Registration for the 2024 competition closes on February 14, 2024. REGISTER NOW

Already registered? Get our Mentorship Guide for more information accessing your teams’ plans and providing feedback.

Important details regarding HopStart Mentorship:
  • No travel is required. Mentors can choose how they prefer to communicate with their teams, whether that is over the phone or in Zoom meetings, through the platform LivePlan, over email, or a combination of platforms.
  • In Round 1, mentors will review each team’s Round 1 submission and provide feedback (approx. 30 minutes to 1 hour per team).
  • In Round 2, mentors will review each team’s Round 2 submission and provide feedback (approx. 1 to 2 hours per team).
  • In Round 3, mentors will meet with teams to review pitches and provide feedback in advance of competition day.
  • Please see our competition timeline for the dates of each round of mentorship.
  • Depending on the number of mentors who apply and the number of teams who compete, mentors will be matched with 1 to 3 teams.
  • During registration, mentors will select first and second choices of category and will be matched to team(s) based on preference and team needs.
  • Please see our LivePlan template for an idea of the questions teams are asked in each round of competition.
  • Mentors selected for this program are invited to attend the competition or serve as judges on competition day.


Judges have the opportunity to evaluate pitches, select winners, and network with participants on competition day – April 26, 2024 (the competition-day schedule is available here). Finalists and winners are selected through a combination of scores and discussion at the conclusion of each round of competition. See an example of our first round score sheet and final round score sheet for more information on the criteria used to score teams.

Please email us at [email protected] for more information on becoming a judge.

Interested individuals can serve as a mentor, a judge, or both. 

Have questions?

Visit our FAQ page or email us at [email protected] for more information.