24 Startups Accepted into the 2023 Alumni New Venture Challenge

The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation is pleased to announce the 24 startups accepted into the 2023 Alumni New Venture Challenge (ANVC), a global competition dedicated to supporting all University of Chicago alumni in developing early-stage ventures.

“We are thrilled to announce this year’s global ANVC cohort, which includes 24 teams that bring a wide variety of industry and domain expertise, from a cleantech financing marketplace, to a wildfire detection solution, and a baking kit service, and more,” said Gorana Kolar, senior associate director at the Polsky Center. “We look forward to seeing each team progress throughout the program.”

Participants applied through six international regions: Europe/Middle East/Africa (EMEA), Asia-Pacific, Latin America, North America­­­–East Coast, North America–West Coast, and North America–Midwest. Selected teams will have access to virtual resources from the Polsky Center as well as local programming, mentorship, and feedback opportunities, which are organized by regional alumni co-chairs.

Each region will hold semi-finals events in the spring and send their top startups to the ANVC global finals, set for May 11. Finalists will present their business plans to a panel of judges and compete for part of a $100,000 investment pool.

The ANVC, which launched in 2019, is one of five tracks of the New Venture Challenge, a top-ranked university accelerator founded at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business in 1996. To be eligible for the ANVC, startups must have a degreed University of Chicago alum as their team lead.

The startups selected to participate in the 2023 ANVC are:


  • ComPlant Pharma Technology  // ComPlant was established by a veteran team to bring unique medical products to desired markets. ComPlant has in-licensed a US-marketed diabetic drug for China and has obtained the Permission for Bridge Clinical Study from the local authority. Team Lead: Sanyou Chen, MBA ’03
  • Puzzicle // Puzzicle is a patent pending, AI-powered Social Learning Platform that enables “Study Parties” where learners watch educational videos in a synchronized and gamified way by watching pre-recorded videos at the same time, with interactive learning interventions, all managed by AI – without a human teacher required. Team Lead: Carlos Fernandes, MBA ’05
  • Algorai Finance Limited // Algorai is a decentralized cryptocurrency structured products platform. Through smart contracts Algorai extracts the asset’s native volatility allowing users to achieve greater sustainable yields. Team Lead:  Edward Lashinski, MBA ’16


  • Cheista // Patients sometimes wait weeks to get treatment because doctors can’t work through the archaic insurance pre-authorization process. Cheista software takes this multi-billion dollar manual process, prone to errors, and turns it on its head through automation for instantaneous approval so patient care can proceed. Team Lead: Saeed Mehrabi, MBA ’22
  • CrystalLine Insurance Services // CrystalLine helps small- and medium-sized businesses obtain cyber insurance. The modern platform simplifies the application process, educates customers on how to lower their premiums, and provides a marketplace to purchase coverage. Team Lead: Vishaal Thanawala, MBA ’20
  • efficientSC // efficientSC is a web-based mission control and workflow tool to track supply disruptions and replace the manual tasks associated with resolving an unfilled order. Team Lead: Sarah Kerin, MBA ’20
  • Nuke // Nuke is a Marketing Optimization software that helps marketers make data-driven decisions to improve performance outcomes. Team Lead: Iday Shanawaz, MBA ’09
  • Promnibus // Promnibus is a Boston-based company that provides technological and professional services to individuals and organizations tackling global health. Promnibus comprises an AI-powered cloud-based analytical intelligence software and professional services expertise that helps clients derive analytical insights into the clinical, operational, and financial impact of global health interventions. Team Lead: Chidi Nwankpa, MBA ’20


  • Archer Career // Archer Career improves career confidence and outcomes, reducing early career underemployment. Archer’s platform delivers structure, momentum, and accountability, using behavioral science and step-by-step micro-learning paths to educate and empower individuals to launch a career. Team Lead: Pam Schilling, MBA ’00
  • BāKIT Box // BāKIT Box is a specialty baking kit service aimed at creating cultural experiences in the household through baking. BāKIT Box offers customers a changing selection of culturally diverse recipes and all the pre-measured ingredients needed to create that delicious treat at home. Team Lead: Shelley Gupta, MBA ’16
  • Give Memento // Memento is a 5-star peer-to-peer payment app that personalizes digital cash gifts for special occasions such as weddings, graduations, birthdays, and more. When checks are inconvenient and Venmo feels “tacky”, Memento enables users to easily send a meaningful video or text message with an extra cash gift for these important events. Team Lead: Chelsie Patterson, MBA ’19
  • Laxis // Laxis is the next generation of AI meeting assistants with real-time insights. You can use Laxis to set pre-meeting agendas, get real-time conversation insights and coaching during meetings, and generate AI memos, action items, and follow-up emails after your meetings. Team Lead: Eric Xiao, MBA ’15
  • PurelyMed // PurelyMed is a medical device startup that augments telehealth platforms to improve remote diagnosis for both chronic and preventive diseases. Their goal is for each household to have a multipurpose diagnostic device at home that securely communicates patient vitals and health information to clinicians for better remote diagnosis and treatment. Team Lead: Jaideep Deshpande, MBA ’16
  • Pyaari Weddings // Pyaari Weddings is the largest South Asian wedding directory in the US & Canada. With the directory, couples can shop for wedding vendors based on pricing, reviews, and more; add them to their ‘cart;’ and create their own customized, DIY, a-la-carte wedding plan. Pyaari Weddings is The Knot meets Amazon. Team Lead: Manali Kamaria, MBA ’20
  • Student Life Skills // Student Life Skills is an industry-disrupting Social/Emotional Learning (SEL) program for children grades K-6.  SLS is the first program to directly connect school and home with life skill tools. It provides a new paradigm in distributing SEL content that actually works. Team Lead: Paul Sweetow, MA ’91
  • Vitaminis // Vitaminis is a functional food and beverage brand for families with no added sugar or mystery ingredients. Its first two products are shelf-stable 2.5-ounce drink shots for immune support (rich in Vitamin C, Zinc, and magnesium) and gut health (probiotics and fiber). Team Lead: Leslie Danford, BA ’04 


  • Brief // Brief is a secure red flag summary, signing, and translation tool that allows consumers to understand the terms and conditions of what they’re signing. Brief supports customers as an invisible third party “on the side” of the consumer for everything from buying a car or house to creating a will. Team Lead: Diana Tan, MBA ’13
  • Calica // Calica is a decentralized marketplace that connects renewable energy buyers and investors with clean energy investment opportunities from power plants. Team Lead: Adam Silver, MBA ’20
  • ClimateFire AI // ClimateFire AI is an automated, AI-enabled, location-based wildfire detection solution for residents, fire professionals, industry, and agricultural facilities. The cloud-based subscription service utilizes geospatial satellite data and web-based mapping to seamlessly scale localized wildfire monitoring in real-time for communities in all 50 states and parts of Canada. Team Lead: Nigel Parsad, MS ’99, MS ’02
  • EOS // EOS is a fintech and cleantech company, a business platform that provides a marketplace for financing renewable and energy efficiency projects for homeowners and businesses. The company provides frictionless financing solutions connecting customers to financiers, assessing the risks, increasing the credit supply and demand matching and developing a sustainable community. Team Lead: Adriano Pereira, MBA ’21
  • Fortifyedge // Fortifyedge has built a deep learning AI/ML platform that uses streaming sensor data on a smart wearable to continuously authenticate wearer identity, location, and physiological and cognitive state. MoveID binds the wearable to the user’s unique behavioral biometric signature for continuous hands-free authentication, smart device tracking, team status/safety/productivity monitoring, and more. Team Lead: Anil Kale, MBA ’01
  • Lambda Function // Lambda Function is on a mission to enable autonomous precision machining. Lambda Function’s vision is to unlock Level 5 machining autonomy, when CNC machines can make decisions without any need for human guidance or intervention. Their software enables increasing levels of autonomy by augmenting CNC programmers and machine operators with AI. Team Lead: Tanmay Aggarwal, MBA’ 15
  • Modern Diligence // Modern Diligence is a suite of products for compliance officers at investment firms that helps compliance teams reduce their regulatory risk and improve their efficiency, starting with a workflow automation tool for expert network call requests. Team Lead: Nelson Auner, BA ’14
  • TEKIO // TEKIO’s mission is to enable profitable online order fulfillment for grocery retailers. Grocery retailers are provided with the Tekio Trolley — a smart compact order fulfillment trolley — on a pay-as-you-go subscription basis. Team Lead: Shea Boyd, MBA ’19

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