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Rosita Longevity wins Alumni New Venture Challenge and $50,000 to Grow Healthy Lifestyle App for Seniors

Rosita Longevity cofounders Juan Cartagena, MBA
’12, and Clara Fernandez, MBA ’19, won first place in the 2021 Alumni New Venture Challenge.

The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation is pleased to announce the winners of the 2021 Alumni New Venture Challenge (ANVC), a program dedicated to supporting University of Chicago alumni across the globe in launching and developing their startup ventures.

Seven finalist teams presented their business plans during a virtual pitch event for a chance at a $100,000 investment pool. A panel of judges selected three winners.

“The camaraderie and support that teams showed one another was inspiring,” said Gorana Kolar, senior associate director at the Polsky Center. “And despite all the challenges of launching a business during a pandemic, the teams made tremendous progress and have so much to be proud of.”

The ANVC, now in its third year, is one of five tracks of the New Venture Challenge (NVC), a top-ranked university accelerator at the Booth School of Business that has helped launch nearly 400 companies that are still active today. The NVC, a pioneering program when it launched in 1996, this year marks its 25th anniversary.

The alumni track, which is open to all University of Chicago alumni, is run out of six geographic regions. Three of the regions are in North America, with the West Coast, Midwest and East Coast serving as hubs. The others are Asia-Pacific, Latin America and EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa).

Of the 57 teams that applied to be in this year’s ANVC, 28 were selected to compete in regional semi-finals events organized by volunteer co-chairs, with access to mentors and online resources from the Polsky Center to help them prepare. Seven  teams advanced to the finals.

“One of the truly special things about the ANVC is that it exemplifies the broad, global reach of the University of Chicago and its business school,” said Dan Sachs, executive director of education and programs at the Polsky Center. “It is a vehicle for building a global network of entrepreneurs that support each other in launching and growing businesses.”

The winners are:

// First place ($50,000): Rosita Longevity (EMEA)

Rosita Longevity, based in Valencia, Spain, is a mobile app that promotes healthy lifestyle habits for seniors, with the goal of increasing healthy life expectancy by five years. Launched in October 2020, the app offers coaching, motivation and activities to help people reduce muscle pain, improve agility and form community.

Team:

  • Juan Cartagena, MBA ’12
  • Clara Fernandez, MBA ’19
  • David Gil

//Second place, tied ($25,000): Gravitrek (North America-East Coast)

Gravitrek, based in Arizona, makes a walker-type device that simulates a reduced-gravity environment to help people with physical disabilities be more mobile.

Team:

  • Kira Burns, MBA ’07
  • Richard Burns
  • Andrew Burns

//Second place, tied ($25,000): Project Hive Pet Company (North America-Midwest)

Project Hive Pet Company, based in Minneapolis, is a mission-driven brand of premium dog toys and treats that gives a share of proceeds to organizations that restore bee and butterfly habitats.

Team:

  • Melissa Rappaport Schifman, MA ’94, MBA ’94
  • Jim Schifman
  • Christen Johnson
  • Jacqueline Hooten

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