The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation is pleased to announce the winners of the 2021 Alumni New Venture Challenge (ANVC), a program dedicated to supporting University of Chicago alumni across the globe in launching and developing their startup ventures.
Seven teams presented their business plans to a panel of judges during a virtual finals event Thursday, May 6, for a chance at a $100,000 investment pool.
First place, and $50,000, was awarded to Rosita Longevity, based in Valencia, Spain. Cofounded by Chicago Booth alumni Juan Cartagena, MBA ’12, and Clara Fernandez, MBA ’19, Rosita Longevity is a mobile app that promotes healthy lifestyle habits for seniors, with the goal of increasing healthy life expectancy by five years.
Two teams that tied for second place each will receive $25,000.
Gravitrek, based in Arizona and cofounded by Booth alum Kira Burns, MBA ’07, makes a walker-type device that simulates a reduced-gravity environment to help people with physical disabilities be more mobile.
Project Hive Pet Company, based in Minneapolis and cofounded by Melissa Rappaport Schiffman, MBA ’94 MA ‘94, is a mission-driven brand of premium dog toys and treats that gives a share of proceeds to organizations that restore bee and butterfly habitats.
"The camaraderie and support that teams showed one another was inspiring," said Gorana Kolar, senior associate director at the Polsky Center. "And despite all the challenges of launching a business during a pandemic, the teams made tremendous progress and have so much to be proud of."
The ANVC, now in its third year, is one of five tracks of the New Venture Challenge, a top-ranked university accelerator at the Booth School of Business that has helped launch nearly 400 companies that are still active today. The NVC, a pioneering program when it launched in 1996, this year marks its 25th anniversary.
The alumni track, which is open to all University of Chicago alumni, is run out of six geographic regions, with alumni volunteering to serve as co-chairs to organize regional semi-finals events. Three of the regions are in North America, with the West Coast, Midwest and East Coast serving as hubs. The others are Asia-Pacific, Latin America and EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa).
Of the 57 teams that applied to be in this year’s ANVC, 28 were selected to compete in the regional semi-finals, with access to mentors and online resources from the Polsky Center to help them prepare. Seven of those 28 teams advanced to the finals.
"One of the truly special things about the ANVC is that it exemplifies the broad, global reach of the University of Chicago and its business school," said Dan Sachs, executive director of education and programs at the Polsky Center. "It is a vehicle for building a global network of entrepreneurs that support each other in launching and growing businesses."
About the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Chicago
The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation applies world-class business expertise from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business to bring new ideas and breakthrough innovations to market. With a 60-person professional staff, the Polsky Center drives the creation of new ventures and commercial partnerships at the University of Chicago and beyond. As a global leader in entrepreneurship education, the Polsky Center is home of the Edward L. Kaplan, '71, New Venture Challenge, one of the top accelerator programs in the nation. The Polsky Center provides training for aspiring entrepreneurs and those seeking a career in private equity, venture capital, and entrepreneurship through acquisition. Learn more at polsky.uchicago.edu and follow updates on Twitter @polskycenter.
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