Supply Chain Software Startup Takes First Place at 2024 NVC as Judges Award Record-Breaking $1.9M in Total Investments

FreshX, a startup developing a supply chain software which helps food companies and freight brokers easily book and manage cold chain transportation and storage, has won first place in the 28th Annual Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge (NVC).

FreshX was awarded $1M in investment, including the $185,000 Rattan L. Khosa First-Place Prize, at the NVC, the signature venture competition for MBA students at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. The $1M investment is the most ever given to a single team in the NVC.

The judges awarded $1.9M in total investment to the eleven teams competing in the finals, representing the largest investment pool in the 28-year history of the NVC.

Encore Marketplace Inc., a resale marketplace platform focused on solving problems that turn Gen Z and Millennials away from legacy marketplaces such as eBay or Craigslist, and Herriot, an AI decision support tool aimed at helping veterinarians deliver great care efficiently, tied for second place, with Encore Marketplace receiving $345,000 and Herriot receiving $170,000.

“It was another phenomenal year for the NVC, and we are so happy to see a record level of investment in the teams,” said Steven Kaplan, Neubauer Family Distinguished Service Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and Kessenich E.P. Faculty Director of the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. “This remarkable milestone is a testament to the exceptional quality of the teams that participated this year, and I am looking forward to seeing what these teams accomplish.”

“We’ve always believed that the NVC has been life changing for our participating students,” said Mark Tebbe, adjunct professor of entrepreneurship and entrepreneur-in-residence at the Polsky Center. “With this investment pool size, and especially with the $1M investment in FreshX, it’s clear the entire NVC ecosystem is actively working to put every participant on a great path to their potential success.”

The finalists represented a diverse group of startups. They presented their business plans to a judging panel made up of 30 investors, entrepreneurs, and industry leaders, many of them Booth alumni, who deliberated behind closed doors before announcing the winners.

“We’re still in shock, but we’re unbelievably excited to win this award and to have finished first place in a competition with so many impressive teams,” said Clay Curran, MBA ’23, founder and CEO of FreshX. “It’s exactly what FreshX needs right now and this investment will go a long way in our success as we continue to develop our product and look to grow.”

FreshX presenting at the 2024 NVC Finals.

The winners of the 2024 NVC are:


FreshX ($1,000,000) // FreshX is a supply chain software company that helps food companies and freight brokers easily book and manage cold chain transportation and storage. The complexity of the cold supply chain has grown exponentially over the past several years and companies have an increasing need for fast, transparent, and flexible solutions for temperature-controlled freight.

FreshX’s total investment of $1M includes the $185,000 Rattan L. Khosa First-Place Prize.


Encore Marketplace Inc. ($345,000) // Encore Marketplace Inc. is a resale marketplace platform focused on solving problems that turn Gen Z and millennials away from legacy marketplaces such as eBay or Craigslist with short-form video auctions, a sophisticated recommendation algorithm, and community-oriented auction events to drive sales. Encore generates revenue through transaction fees, premium service markups, and advertising.

Herriot ($170,000) // Herriot is building an AI decision support tool to help veterinarians deliver great care efficiently. Its conversational AI application distills years of a pet’s clinical history into an easy-to-read summary, suggests differential diagnoses based on current symptoms, and provides value-based care plans; bringing unparalleled efficiency and support to the point of care.


Decimal Code ($75,000) // Decimal Code helps healthcare providers capture underbilled revenue and eliminate operational waste through automated medical coding. Medical coding is functionally the way that healthcare providers get paid. Providers submit numerical current procedural terminology (CPT) codes that equate to reimbursement dollars from insurance payors.

Owler AI ($110,000) // Owler AI is a web platform that leverages machine learning to compare student submissions to an educator’s grading criteria and provide targeted feedback that helps the teacher’s review, and students grow. Owler is a Chicago-based, Delaware LLC with 400+ beta users since a January 2024 launch.

Owler AI’s $110,000 investment was inclusive of the $25,000 Moonshot Award which is awarded to a team whose unique technologies are catalyzing innovative solutions to global challenges.

Slosh Dynamics ($125,000) // Slosh Dynamics is enabling winemakers to craft better tasting non-alcoholic wine.


Ark Health ($30,000) // Ark Health recruits and retains patients for clinical trials by providing concierge navigation services that knock down patient barriers, from prescreening to enrollment. Using a predictive AI engine to efficiently deploy its navigation service, Ark Health is the scalable platform that improves clinical trial diversity.


ORO Intelligence ($10,000) // ORO Intelligence is a healthcare technology company that leverages AI to automate and optimize workflows for healthcare providers. Its mission is to improve patient access to care and quality of interactions in healthcare settings while providing revenue recapture and generation opportunities for providers.

Pharos Aerospace ($10,000) // Pharos Aerospace addresses the increasing risk to satellites in low earth orbit (LEO), where debris flying at high speeds poses a hazardous threat to any spacecraft. Pharos leverages creative data acquisition and analysis to help operators ensure the safety of their assets.

Stratix ($10,000) // Stratix translates data into actions for sales reps to act on by analyzing performance data and providing personalized, AI-generated recommendations.

TourMe ($15,000) // TourMe harnesses the best in online learning and AI-powered techniques to provide each traveler with a strong personal connection to the cultures they explore.

TourMe was also the recipient of the People’s Choice Award, a $5,000 cash prize voted on by the audience.

*After voting was concluded, additional investments were made, so dollar amounts are not indicative of placing.

The NVC Finals event was held in person at Chicago Booth’s Harper Center and included Booth students, members of the public, mentors, advisors, faculty, staff, and investors. The NVC was a pioneer of business school venture competitions when it held its first finals in 1997 with a $20,000 investment pool. It has since graduated more than 370 companies still in operation today, including nationally known brands such as Grubhub, Braintree/Venmo, Simple Mills, and Tovala, that have gone on to raise more than $1 billion in funding and achieve more than $8.5 billion in exits.

The eleven teams competing in the 2024 NVC finals were selected from 30 teams that participated in Phase II of the NVC, which consists of a credit-bearing spring quarter course.

// The Polsky Center also runs four additional tracks of the NVC. These serve distinct University of Chicago audiences, including alumni, undergraduates, executive MBA students, and social impact entrepreneurs. The winner announcements for those competitions can be found below:

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