25 Teams Advance to Phase II of the 2023 Edward L. Kaplan, ’71 New Venture Challenge

The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation is pleased to announce the 25 Phase II teams advancing in the 2023 Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge (NVC), the University of Chicago’s signature startup accelerator for MBA students at the Booth School of Business.

Through the NVC, the Polsky Center has graduated more than 370 startup companies and created thousands of jobs for the economy. NVC startups have raised more than $1.2 billion in funding and achieved more than $8.5 billion in mergers and exits.

This year’s finals will be held in person at the Harper Center in June.

The Phase II teams are:

  • Al Dawara // We aim to create the raw material (pellets) for a 100% compostable plant-based thin film plastic, that would serve as a sustainable alternative to traditional petroleum-based plastic products. Our products will replace single use plastics, such as carrier bags, food packaging, and liners.
  • Alnair Therapeutics // A preclinical stage, platform precision oncology company that focuses on new methods to treat difficult-to-treat cancers. We developed a first-in-class drug delivery technology that leverages the unique features of cancer metabolism to enhance targeting of drugs directly to cancer cells, and significantly improve drug penetration inside these cancers.
  • Blazer // A two-way marketplace specifically designed for style. We connect passionate, expert stylists with individuals looking to elevate their lives through their wardrobes. We break down the barriers between stylists and clients by bringing them together and empowering clients to choose their stylists. Blazer aims to democratize personal style.
  • Clause Out // A civic technology business that aims to increase engagement between politicians and citizens of all political stripes. We are creating a market for politicians to better gauge voter sentiments and concerns, through a digital platform helping politicians align with potential supporters on substantive issues.
  • Clementine // A digital health platform that enables people to implement healthy behavior change through evidence-based content and practices rooted in lifestyle medicine and through personalized, AI-driven health coaching that helps users build a healthy lifestyle.
  • Commas // A technology platform that leverages proven behavioral psychology concepts to implement activities that enable users to develop positive and realistic financial habits.
  • Cosmable // A digital platform for consumers to discover, research, and book aesthetic procedures such as BOTOX. We are the landing place for all consumer interests in aesthetics. We use transaction data to inform clinic owners on getting ready and appropriate consumers and individual practitioners on building stronger personal brands.
  • FlashForward // Our mission is to digitally transform the global supply chain. We provide a unified digital platform that streamlines the process of exporting material goods. We leverage various AI solutions to automate document creation, increase visibility, and simplify 3rd-party interactions to save time and money in the export lifecycle.
  • Home Life // We will provide a new retirement living option that will be less expensive than the current options and will facilitate social connections among seniors. Our model will match seniors with host families to live with. The seniors will receive a suite of other resources alongside their new living arrangement.
  • Inclusive+ // Inclusive+offers cultural and medical competency training and credentialing for LGBTQIA+ medicine. We allow medical practice groups and staffing companies to empower their clinicians to create an inclusive and differentiated level of care.
  • IndustryNest Corporation // A B2B marketplace for industrial manufactured machine parts. Buyers gain access to highly specific international products with benefits of technical support, convenience, and a credible platform for transactions. Suppliers attain an avenue to offer products overseas.
  • Kadia Health // A digital health platform, supports the supporters. It provides therapy and other services for the family members and close friends of people with Substance Use Disorder (SUD).
  • MARview // A SaaS platform with commercial and government applications that is designed for ship’s captains, crews, and shore supporters. It offers AI route recommendations and ocean surface monitoring. By combining weather, current, and previously unused radar data we help save fuel, avoid collisions, and enhance awareness of the ocean’s surface.
  • Medcypher // Medcypher aims to alleviate the burdens affecting healthcare organizations, clinicians, and patients when sharing and compiling complete patient records. The software platform which leverages blockchain and smart contract technology will facilitate organizations’ compliance with current and future data-sharing regulations and provide buildable infrastructure for patient-centered digital health solutions.
  • My Advisor // A comprehensive platform and coordination service for wealth managers, accountants, and lawyers whose clients are struggling to stay organized and meet deadlines. We assist with tasks, share key information, and support the client, so the advisor can prioritize making high-impact decisions and delivering a better client experience.
  • Nene // An e-commerce platform for baby clothing that offers high-quality products at two entry points: new and pre-owned. Nene clothing. Customers send back their Nene-brand clothing once their babies have outgrown them and earn store credit for every item they return to incentivize a circular economy.
  • OBLSK Materials LLC //  A state-of-the-art shipping container for advanced operations including combat resupply and disaster relief. Brutal yet elegant, OBLSK is a compelling marriage between advanced engineering and high school psychics. Our patented packaging container can strike the ground at terminal velocity without its contents shattering.
  • Olga Haeberli // OH is a startup business that focuses on offering high-quality restoration services for luxury leather pieces with the purpose of giving them a second chance to look as new. OH’s restoration services involve the cleaning, maintenance, change of color, and remodeling of the items.
  • Opti Pay // Opti Pay automatically chooses the credit card in your mobile wallet to maximize your cash back on every transaction, analyzes your transaction history to recommend the best credit card for you to apply to next, and enables you to see all your credit card transactions in a single app.
  • Proof Labs // A hardware integration company dedicated to revolutionizing the way goods are tracked and authenticated. We build custom encrypted NFC tags that host programmable smart contracts. These tags enable two-factor authentication for goods across digital marketplaces, while also offering custom logistic solutions for companies and consumers globally.
  • re:ORBITAL // An in-space manufacturing company that focuses on leveraging reusable upper-stage launch vehicles to enable a high-volume/low-cost structure. We will draw ZBLAN fiber optic cable core in microgravity conditions leveraging the opportunities afforded by reusable upper-stage launch vehicles.
  • uTutor Education // A learning management platform specifically designed for tutors to allow them to engage with their students outside of the tutoring session. Tutors can assign problems they want their students to focus on and gather diagnostic data and performance analytics on their students’ improvement.
  • WattShift // WattShift software automates thermostats (and soon other devices) to shift energy demand away from peak times. We leverage existing electric grid incentive schemes to compensate the homeowner (and us) hundreds of dollars each year per device to decrease peak load instead of paying for fossil fuels to produce peak load.
  • Zaars // Zaars is a marketplace app for new and secondhand South Asian clothing that improves access to hard-to-find clothes, provides an e-commerce platform for boutique sellers, and reduces environmental impact by increasing reuse of lightly worn clothing. Detailed filters, community-specific features, quality listings, and educational resources for unfamiliar buyers facilitates transactions.
  • Zelia App // A mobile platform that simplifies your style decisions by using an algorithm to curate outfits based on your existing clothing, making getting dressed an effortless process. It fosters a community of like-minded individuals who prioritize sustainable fashion and self-expression and helps connect brands with customers and influencers.

The NVC, a pioneering business school venture competition founded at Chicago Booth in 1996, became the richest such program in the nation in 2021 when it awarded $1.73 million in investment to student-led startups.

Companies launched through the NVC include household names such as Grubhub, Braintree/Venmo, and Simple Mills. The Rattan L. Khosa First-Place Prize, in addition to other specialized prizes and awards, are announced at the Polsky Innovation Showcase immediately following the finals.

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