Finalists Announced for the University of Chicago’s College New Venture Challenge Finals

PodU, the first platform for podcasting in Arabic, took home first place at the 2019 College New Venture Challenge finals. Photo credit: Polsky Center archives.

The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Chicago has officially announced the seven teams moving on to finals of the 2020 College New Venture Challenge (CNVC). The CNVC is the College track of the university’s nationally recognized business launch program, the Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge (NVC).

This year’s cohort included a select group of entrepreneurial students from The Grainger College of Engineering’s City Scholars program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (U of I). The City Scholars program is a semester-long study and work program based in Chicago, which enables students from U of I to intern in the city’s tech sector while completing coursework. The CNVC course is the cornerstone of the newly created Startup City Scholars program. Through the course, students from both U of I and UChicago worked side by side on building high-growth, high-impact businesses.

The CNVC, which began in 2012, has helped undergraduate University of Chicago students turn their ideas into viable businesses including Cubii, Sokowatch, Fronen, Moneythink, and Quevos. Since 1996, the Polsky Center has helped launch more than 330 startup companies still in operation today that have gone on to raise more than $1 billion in funding and more than $7.5 billion in exits through its NVC program.

Teams advancing to this year’s CNVC finals are:

Emma (UChicago) is a kitchen concierge that puts your fridge and pantry on autopilot. We deliver straight to your kitchen and dispose of all your expired goods properly.

SellerFan (UChicago) is bringing a new kind of monetization to the influencer-superfan ecosystem with an innovative, automated technology platform.

Sucker Punch (UChicago) is an innovative low sugar alcoholic punch packaged in a versatile and eco-friendly stand up drink pouch.

Subli (UChicago) is a peer-to-peer subletting marketplace for university communities.

Talklet (UChicago and U of I) provides short, problem-focused consultations led by student providers for people who wouldn’t otherwise access mental healthcare.

Teneez (U of I) is a sneaker rental company. Think Rent the Runway, but for sneaker heads.

Women in STEM (WiSTEM) (UChicago) supports young women interested in STEM through building social networks using high school chapters.

The 2019-2020 cohort will culminate on Wednesday, March 11, 2020 at the CNVC Finals where finalist teams will present their business plans to a panel of judges comprised of investors, entrepreneurs, and industry experts. Prizes – which includes a $100,000 prize pool as well as in-kind services – have helped past CNVC finalists grow into successful businesses.

About the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation
The University of Chicago Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation brings the power of ideas in the laboratory, classroom and community to the world. Through education, resources, and programs, the Polsky Center commercializes discoveries, partners with companies, and attracts venture capital. The Polsky Center runs UChicago’s nationally-ranked startup accelerator, the Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge, which has helped launch more than 330 companies worldwide that have gone on to achieve more than $7.5 billion in value and raised over $1 billion in funding. The mission of the Polsky Center is to support students, faculty, alumni, and community members by bridging the gap between knowledge and practice, idea and action, and research and impact. By igniting a spirit of innovation and fostering connections that extend across the University, city, region and world, the Polsky Center enables more ideas to have a meaningful impact on society. Learn more at

About the City Scholars
City Scholars is an initiative of The Grainger College of Engineering that fills Chicago’s tech pipeline with students from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Top 5 undergraduate engineering program. Juniors and Seniors from The Grainger College of Engineering pursue internships in Chicago’s tech sector in fields like software engineering, data science, trading, and analysis. Once accepted and placed with a company, City Scholars spend a semester living, working, and studying in Chicago. Students take a full course-load and are paid for their work. Companies get a first look at top students and a chance to train students throughout a 16-week semester as well as traditional summer internships. With the addition of the Startup City Scholars track, students can take advantage of Chicago’s many resources for entrepreneurs encouraging them to remain in Chicago to build businesses after graduation.

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