Judging Criteria

GSVC entrants are evaluated by judges who are thought-leaders and practitioners in the social enterprise space, including impact investors, social entrepreneurs, and leading experts in international development and venture philanthropy. Judges evaluate GSVC entrants in three equally weighted areas to determine a venture’s overall score.

For the 2019 competition, all ventures must have a technology component to their venture, whether a product, hardware, software, web platform, mobile app, wireless, etc. Solutions should utilize “technology for good” in some form, whether the entire venture is focused on a technology-based solution or if the venture has some degree of a technology component built into the solution.

Business Potential

Strong ventures link a clearly defined social, economic, and/or environmental problem with a compelling economic opportunity. Ventures should be designed to fit a specific market and should reflect a deep understanding of the problem they aim to solve, core customers and other key stakeholders. In addition to generating social and/or environmental impact, ventures should be financially feasible, fundable, and scalable.


  • Venture addresses a clearly defined social, economic, and/or environmental problem
  • Venture operates in a market in which there is compelling economic opportunity
  • Venture is designed for a well-defined customer and has a customer acquisition strategy
  • Venture reflects a deep understanding of the problem they aim to solve and other key stakeholders (beneficiaries, partners, employees, investors), and a thorough analysis of the competitive landscape


  • Venture offers a clear value proposition(s) to its customer and other key stakeholders
  • Venture has sustainable, defensible sources of competitive advantage
  • Product or service fits the target market
  • Product or service has a clear value chain and roadmap

Financial Impact

  • Financial projections are based on clear and reasonable assumptions
  • Venture has strong revenue model that shows clear understanding of key cost drivers, revenue streams
  • Venture has attractive unit economics and margins
Social Impact Potential

GSVC refers to social impact as it relates to social, economic, and/or environmental problems that ventures aim to solve.

Strong ventures design business models that integrate social, economic, and/or environmental impact with their financial impact. The Social Impact Assessment is a key indicator of a venture’s potential to generate positive social returns beyond the status quo.

Social Impact Value Proposition

  • Venture addresses a clearly defined social challenge
  • Venture makes a clear case for why the social challenge is important
  • Venture is supported by a well-articulated theory of change and impact value chain
  • Social impact is integrated in the business model: impact scales as company grows
  • Venture generates social value above and beyond current state or next best available option
  • Social impact projections are based on reasonable assumptions and credible data
  • Venture has a longer term vision for social impact beyond the immediate challenge

Social Impact Implementation

  • Venture has a realistic plan to address the identified social challenge through the selected business mode
  • Team has selected appropriate social impact metrics that align with the intended impact the venture has articulated
  • Team has designed a clear and feasible plan for measuring and evaluating social impact
Likelihood of Success

Successful ventures are made possible by strong teams, and ideas are only as good as their execution. A venture’s business and social impact potential depend on the team that stands behind it, and that team’s ability to carry it forward.

Quality of Team

  • Members are passionate, committed, and resourceful
  • Team is balanced, with relevant and diverse domain and industry experience that complement each other and make them competitively qualified to execute their idea
  • Ability to execute:
    • Team’s dedication, and particular composition and balance has contributed to its  track record of progress over time
    • Team has leveraged access to resources and education, including mentors, advisors, and collaborators
  • Team recognizes what key skills and expertise they are missing and has a clear plan to address these gaps 
  • Presentation is professional, persuasive, and organized*


  • Venture has a clearly defined vision and growth objectives
  • Plan includes a coherent and convincing go-to-market strategy
  • Team has a clear execution plan and is prepared to address potential risks

Organizational Fit

  • Venture’s core values support its vision and desired outcomes
  • Venture’s legal form (e.g. for profit, non-profit, etc.) supports its vision and desired outcomes


*Not relevant for Round One Submissions.