11th Annual College New Venture Challenge Announces Competing Undergraduate Teams

PODU receives $15,000 at the 2019 College New Venture Challenge (CNVC). (Photo by Joe Sterbenc)

The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, in partnership with University of Illinois’ Grainger College of Engineering is pleased to announce the 16 teams selected for the 11th annual College New Venture Challenge (CNVC), an undergraduate student startup accelerator.

The growing businesses, which will compete for financial investment, boast a multitude of innovations from medical patient data record storage to ready-to-drink cocktails, from farm financing to blood sugar management gamification.

“This year we received the largest number of applications ever for the CNVC and the quality of the ventures was very impressive,” said Starr Marcello, AM ’04, MBA ’17, deputy dean for MBA programs at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and professor of the CNVC. “We look forward to working with the teams and watching their ventures continue to grow throughout the course of the program and beyond.”

The CNVC, launched in 2012, is one of five tracks of the University of Chicago’s New Venture Challenge, a top-ranked startup accelerator that has nurtured more than 500 still-active companies, including Grubhub, Simple Mills, and Braintree.

The CNVC is open to returning undergraduate students from UChicago, as well as students in the entrepreneurship track of the City Scholars program at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign (UIUC). Participants develop their business plans during a credit-bearing course at Chicago Booth in the winter quarter, and at the end finalist teams present to a panel of judges for a shot at investment.

The finals are set for February 28.

The CNVC’s investment pool has grown markedly over the life of the program, whose alumni companies include Natuur, Haylon Technologies, Cubii, Sokowatch, and Fronen. During the 2022 competition, winning CNVC startups received a total of $150,000 in investment.

The following teams have been selected to participate in the 2023 CNVC:

A1Centive // A1Centive is the gamification of Type 1 diabetes (T1D) blood sugar management. The A1Centive app lets users earn rewards for maintaining good blood sugar levels and interact with friends as well as the broader T1D community to achieve better health outcomes.

Aer // Aer is a technology company developing non-invasive human-computer interfaces that transcribe silent speech into text for command and communication with computers. This is immediately valuable to those with a speech impairment and will ultimately provide useful industrial applications via Aer’s software development kit which automates computer interaction using natural language.

Theta Neurotech // Theta Neurotech is bridging the gap between the brain and consciousness, filling a gaping hole in the wearable market by focusing on brain function. With an unobtrusive, 24/7-wearable, discrete EEG wearable, the consumer will be able to quantifiably match cognitive capacity with total cognitive output each day, ensuring maximal brain function.

Demeter // Demeter’s goal is to help farmers get easy loan and insurance financing with machine learning and alternative data like weather data, soil data, and satellite imagery for more accurate credit and risk determination. They will partner with lenders in extending loans and with farmers in maximizing yield.

EchoLife // EchoLife provides an innovative, sustainable, efficient, and accessible solution for global cardiac screening by combining personalized AI risk assessments with a novel remote echocardiogram screening technology and a standardized training protocol.

ENVIRON // ENVIRON is a software solution that manages and updates safety procedures for companies that fall under Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) jurisdiction, providing reliable and up-to-date information that is tailor-made to fit the needs of each individual company and thus reducing the risk of injury, and fines or lawsuits.

Hazy Bunny // Hazy Bunny is revolutionizing the ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktail industry by offering a modern take on a 2,000-year-old cocktail that promotes gut health and eases hangovers the day after a night of drinking. These pulque-based cocktails are premixed with several tropical fruits that cater to cocktail fanatics pursuing unique flavors.

JUNO Data // JUNO Data is a B2B SaaS platform where users can generate structured and unstructured synthetic data. With an encrypted data transmission pipeline, customer data is secure, compliant, and anonymized. Generated data is flexible, scalable, high quality, and comprehensive while also covering possible edge cases not found in organic data.

Logit // Logit is a multifaceted solution to the complex problem of patient data organization in healthcare. Logit believes that patients should have easy access to their records and the ability to securely share their verifiable data with any provider or third party.

MANN // MANN is a clothing brand that prides itself on quality, ethically produced, and unique garments. MANN has two components: MANN READY TO WEAR and MANN STUDIO. MANN STUDIO is a collaborative effort between the brand and customers to create custom garments, which may be channeled to MANN READY TO WEAR.

MedSwift Social // MedSwift Social is a tool to help healthcare professionals understand patient’s social determinants of health (SDOH). MedSwift Social’s goal is to provide a snapshot of a patient’s community to aid in medical decision-making.

Populus // Populus is a decentralized governance and human capital management platform for decentralized communities. Built on the Polygon blockchain network, Populus uses ERC-721 smart contracts to assign governance power, create a governance process, and organize production for members of a community in a decentralized and law-abiding way.

Quail.ai // Quail.ai is a software platform to streamline and enable the Machine Learning lifecycle. QPlatform attempts to unify multiple problem areas in data science such as: data wrangling, experimentation, reproducibility, and model deployment, using generic APIs that work with any machine learning library, algorithm and programming language.

Sakura // Sakura provides accessible, minimally invasive testing and results. This diagnostic medical device helps gynecologists who want to provide a more comfortable environment for patients by reducing the invasive feeling for patients and increasing accessibility and comfort during the service gynecologists provide.

VaiLocal // VaiLocal is a hyper-local jobs board that has helped up to 311 high school and college students secure jobs, internships, and volunteering positions with 20+ companies in St. Louis since 2019. The Student Opportunities Network is the go-to jobs board for teens and young adults to secure local positions.

Top Tier Lessons // Top Tier Lessons is an online platform that matches college student-athletes with parents in the community looking for sports lessons for their kids. Top Tier Lessons believes that children deserve more than a coach, they deserve a role model and mentor working towards the mission of inspiring the future generation of athletes.

To learn more about the CNVC, visit the program page or contact Lucas Peralta, Lucas.peralta@chicagobooth.edu.


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