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30 teams selected to Phase II of the New Venture Challenge; 16 teams advance to Phase II of the SNVC

The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and the Social Enterprise Initiative at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business have today announced the teams moving on to the next phase of the New Venture Challenge and Social New Venture Challenge.

The Polsky Center’s premier start-up launch program, the Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge (NVC), is designed to help student teams turn their ideas into viable businesses. Launched in 1996, the NVC is recognized as the #1 university accelerator program in the nation and has graduated more than 140 start-up companies still in operation today. To date, NVC companies have achieved more than $3.7 billion in mergers and exits, including Braintree, which was acquired by PayPal in 2013 for $800 million; Bump Technologies, which was acquired by Google in 2013; and GrubHub, which completed an IPO in April 2014.

From fashion tech, to an easier way to learn a foreign language, to the potential next craze in boutique fitness — these companies are aiming to join the great company of past NVC winners this spring.

Check out the full list of the teams moving on to Phase II of he New Venture Challenge, and keep up with the rest of the NVC by following @polskycenter #ChicagoNVC.

· Advent uses state‐of‐the‐art machine learning to programmatically generate digital social and mobile ads optimally targeted to specific viewers in real time.

· Anansi produces safety‐oriented wearable‐technology devices to help make people safer. Their introductory product detects your body’s “fight or flight” response and automatically sends messages (with your GPS coordinates) to emergency services, friends, or family to alert them that you are in distress and in need of help.

· BeatBox is a boutique boxing company, marketed primarily towards women, that combines the effectiveness of the boxing workout (excellent cardio and toning) with the exceptional customer experience created by boutique fitness companies such as SoulCycle.

· Ben & Frank brings affordable and fashionable eyewear to Mexico. By cutting intermediaries and mainly selling online, Ben & Frank manage to cut prices to a fraction of the big‐name brands

· Ben’s Muffins is a quick muffin mix containing organic nuts and grains, no added sugar, gluten, or preservatives. Combine an egg, a banana, a serving of mix, and microwave for three minutes. The result is a delicious, healthy muffin that gives you the sustained energy you need.

· Coronado Conservation intends to bring a new, ultra‐ high‐efficiency toilet to the market.

· CurEasy is a platform connecting patients from countries such as India with underdeveloped healthcare systems to doctors in the US providing second opinion consultations across the various fields of medicine.

· Enabled Technologies is a platform aimed at improving physician workflow by functioning across different electronic medical record systems.

· Enlight is an e‐commerce technology company reinventing the way diamond engagement rings are purchased.

· ExoWear is a health and fitness company that creates wearables to monitor medical exercises of patients undergoing physical therapy. This device serves as a coaching aid by reminding the patient to complete their exercises and providing real‐time feedback.

· Firmitas Biotechnology uses a proprietary drug delivery technology called nano‐encapsulation to improve the performance of existing pharmaceutical compounds. The technology has the capability to change the drug’s route of administration, reduce dosage by increasing absorption, and decrease administration frequency.

· Flag Analytics develops predictive analytics products in the public safety space. Their first product is an early intervention system for police departments that better identifies when an officer is likely to have an adverse interaction with the public.

· Freenters is an advertising company that is disrupting the campus marketing scene through a virtual printer driver software that allows users to earn cashable credits by opting in to receive ad pages in between their printed documents to reduce their printing expense.

· GrizzlyTackle is the first and only online tackle shop that provides holistic fishing solutions, giving today’s consumer the transparency, convenience, and low prices that they’ve come to expect in the digital era.

· HygraTek has developed a patent‐pending technology that targets turbine operators using a coating‐as‐a‐service model while simultaneously delivering coating directly into manufacturers’ products via a sales, joint venture, or licensing agreement.

· Insight Byte is a solution that enables individual and group owned restaurants to lower their operating costs by providing real‐time profit and loss information and highlighting specific cost improvement areas.

· LanguageOM is an education platform that connects English learners in China with native English speakers in the U.S. They offer an affordable and convenient solution for learners to practice speaking English with native English speakers, through a series of structured yet customizable course modules.

· Mi Misura is the first apparel company in Mexico selling affordable luxury custom fit clothes directly to consumers.

· NiceDiggz is a web‐based commercial real estate community designed to create transparency within the highly fragmented industry by connecting users of commercial real estate (landlords and tenants) with service providers who contribute to the tenant leasing process and maintain commercial buildings.

· NICORA combines the latest advancements in technology‐engineered textiles with traditional hand‐built construction techniques to make sensible, high‐quality footwear and accessories for the conscious consumer.

· Nip simplifies food delivery by significantly improving the end‐to‐end experience for both foodies and restaurant groups, focusing on three key areas: curating quality dishes, speeding up processes, and delivering a premium experience.

· OurHealthMate is a digital healthcare marketplace for emerging markets. It is a portal that enables people to find, book and pay for healthcare and get direct feedback from the doctors.

· ParkZen is a mobile application that provides users with real-time information about free curbside parking availability displayed on a map. ParkZen’s sophisticated technology requires zero user-input to process when users are leaving curbside parking spots; all users have to do is simply download the app.

· PoshPit is on a mission to change the way you remove your body hair, with the first all‐in‐one, on‐the‐go solution: a hair removal wipe.

· pqrs (pronounced “Packers”) is an on‐demand shipping company that takes the hassle out of packaging, shipping, and returns by promptly picking up return items from a customer’s location, printing the label, packaging them, and shipping to them to a retailer’s return center all while remaining affordable and efficient.

· Riviter is software that helps clothing retailers read shoppers’ minds by analyzing the photos shoppers pin, post, and share to extract details about their preferences. These details are synthesized into actionable analytics for retailers and personalized recommendations shoppers on the retailer’s e‐ commerce site.

· Sift offers individuals with food allergies a safe and convenient way to discover dining options while reducing the additional burden experienced by restaurants.

· speakEasy will provide consumers with a more efficient and personalized way to learn a new language.

· TransparentMBA is a platform for anonymously sharing compensation and satisfaction information among curated communities.

· WillowFlare is a platform that provides mobile game companies the player base, feedback, and statistics necessary to expand overseas.

In addition to these companies, the round of teams moving on into Phase II of the John Edwardson, ’72, Social New Venture Challenge (SNVC) have been announced. Check out their bios, and follow along with the SNVC at @BoothSEI on Twitter.

· AccessArc provides a guided legal technology service that seeks to mitigate the effects of mass incarceration by increasing accessibility to legal advocacy, increasing knowledge of the legal system and criminal court processes, and reducing the public burden caused by mass incarceration.

· Act 3 is a branded, interactive web-based platform of resources to empower seriously-ill people and their loved ones to understand and engage with palliative care.

· ArtRental mobilizes art museum inventories by leasing artworks to offices and commercial spaces.

DiversifiED’s objective is to create a platform students and universities can use to objectively evaluate their college campus.

· EASY Financial Planning is a service that takes care of the financial well-being of its customers by providing relevant financial education, tools, and advice to the Mexican market.

· EMMA is a cell phone application that connects pregnant women on the South and West Sides of Chicago to health care and also captures data related to health risks.

· EnerLet empowers individuals to make informed choices about their daily lives in order to improve their impact on the environment by understanding their carbon footprint.

· i4Spy is a SaaS cybersecurity solution that identifies, neutralizes, and protects against cyber-stalking and espionage applications, allowing the user to regain control over her or his devices, ultimately enforcing privacy and security of data, communications, and personal safety.

· JoinGiving helps businesses better engage potential customers to produce both marketing and social impact results with cause marketing campaigns.

· KitcheNet connects people who have time to cook and want to make money with people who lack access to healthy food. By crowdsourcing ingredients and standardizing recipes, our model substantially lowers the cost of healthy meals.

· Laotu is designed to promote ecological food and handicraft production by sharing stories of individuals advocating sustainable rural produce methods via an online platform. Laotu aims to create consumer demand for local, organic food and traditional handicraft by building an open network that connects producers and consumers.

· The Math Institute in Chicago’s goal is to highlight the captivating culture of math. It will be composed of a museum, an art gallery, hands-on exhibits, conferences, classes, and research events.

· Mind Matters will provide telemental health services to military veterans, as well as active and reserve service members. Individual and group counseling will be provided via video, voice, and web-based chat by licensed clinicians including psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and substance abuse counselors.

· Picomed is a crowd-sourced public health application that lets parents transmit information to each other, doctors and local authorities in their network, which helps prevent children from getting sick, improves the outcomes for those who do get sick, and reduces the costs that communicable disease imposes on families.

· ReadAskChat is an evidence-based early literacy system comprising a tablet-based e-book library plus training to help caregivers and parents read interactively with children 6 months to 6 years.

· Solar Bus 4 Schools Financial is an energy-focused financing business that will target school districts seeking to explore electric school buses for their transportation needs.

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