With Chicago tech staples like Braintree, GrubHub and Rise Interactive among its graduates, the University of Chicago’s New Venture Challenge is one of our tech ecosystem's most storied traditions. In the past two decades, its graduates have raised a whopping $434 million in funding, and another $3.7 billion in mergers and exits.
“We continue to be impressed by the caliber of businesses that have entered the New Venture Challenge over the past twenty years, and this year’s teams were no exception," said Ellen Rudnick, executive director of the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, in a statement. "We had so many real businesses in this year’s program that we easily could have had 15 finalists. These ten finalists bring a variety of topics, platforms and products to the NVC and we expect a fantastic event next week."
Last night, the university released a list of 10 finalists for its 20th annual challenge, which will take place on Tuesday June 2. Here are the finalists, with descriptions courtesy of the University of Chicago:
One of two first-place winners at the Global New Venture Challenge in March, Appiness allows broadcasters to combine the reach of TV with the targeting power of digital media and the revenue-generating power of e-commerce.
Beatbox is a Chicago-based fitness company that offers group boxing classes in a high-end, boutique studio setting. Beatbox creates an environment that removes the intimidation factor from boxing, while providing a fun, highly effective way to get fit.
Ben & Frank brings fashionable and affordable eyewear to Mexico. By cutting intermediaries and mainly selling online, they manage to cut prices to a fraction of the big-name brands.
Coronado Conservation is developing an innovative high-efficiency toilet that uses the power of air suction to flush, eliminating a significant amount of water usage without sacrificing performance.
CostByte is a software that enables individual, group owned and small chain restaurants to reduce operating costs by enabling impactful and prioritized data driven decisions through a simple 3-click process and machine learning algorithms.
Flag Analytics is a predictive analytics company. They have created an early intervention system for police departments to help identify when an officer is at risk of adversely interacting with the public and apply that information within HR management. The company will be part of the Polsky Accelerator this summer.
OurHealthMate enables Indian expats to send home the gift of health. The online platform allows Indian expats to find verified doctors in India, book and pay for medical packages for their loved ones and receive direct feedback from the doctor.
Riviter is a website widget that uses pictures to improve search relevance on retail sites. Unlike current technology, which relies on manually tagged keywords, Riviter uses a patented computer vision algorithm to detect and relate hundreds of image attributes. The company was part of the Polsky Center I-Corps program in 2016.
TransparentMBA helps individuals make more informed career decisions, and helps firms easily find and evaluate talent. TransparentMBA collects and provides personalized information to its users and uses this data to match individuals with employers.
WillowFlare is a crowdsourced market research and consulting company that helps Chinese mobile game companies enter the U.S. market by acquiring feedback and analytics from a panel of sophisticated casual players.
Images via the University of Chicago.