We Won New Venture Challenge at Chicago Booth! Here's How We Did It.

June 3, 2013

Team matchist after the winLast week was big for matchist:

We won New Venture Challenge at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business!

NVC is a startup competition that lasts for one quarter and features pitching and mentorship from top Chicago entrepreneurs and VCs. It culminates in a big day where Booth brings in amazing judges from around the country who select the best team in a pressure packed, day long pitching competition. We’re humbled to be in the company of GrubHub and Braintree, both past winners.

While I have no idea what happened in the judges quarters during the decision making process (I heard it was fierce!), I do know that there are a few things matchist specifically focused on that helped us stand out:

1) Team- I can’t speak highly enough about the matchist team. We love working together, hanging out, and getting things done in an efficient manner. We got a lot of work done, but always had fun and never took ourselves too seriously. The team was well rounded in terms of skills and personalities. Our meetings were largely efficient because two group members had full time jobs, so we always had to focus on what was important. We had a great blend of business and fun and are all genuinely sad the competition is over.

2) Focusing on the Business- Startups are a blend of hustle and vision. When I started at Booth, I wasn’t even sure if matchist should participate in NVC because I thought it might be too much of a distraction from the business. For the first two months, we focused exclusively on hustling: building partnerships, closing customers, and iterating on our business model. We had enough data and traction that we could tell a number of stories in our final pitch. Having the traction we highlighted showed the judges two things: that the business is REAL (often in startup competitions, it’s hard to tell what is a real business and what is aspirational) and that our business model isn’t theoretical, it works.

3) Iterating- Mark Tebbe, one of the distinguished judges and a classroom mentor for NVC, mentioned that our presentation went through the most changes throughout the quarter (we presented three separate times as part of the process). We took advice from judges and mentors extremely seriously, and thought about ways to answer their questions through data. For example, one thing that became an issue early on was how we could ensure exclusive relationships with our partners. This question came up over and over again, and we knew we had to find a way to address this in our business. So you can bet that in our final presentation, that was no longer an issue. Being flexible and understanding how to apply advice became an important way for our team to move forward with the busienss.

4) Polish and Poise- In our final presentation, we spent a lot of time making our deck look beautiful. Rishi is a powerpoint master and really thought about how to display concepts in an easy to understand flow that was easy on the eyes. We decided to wear matchist tshirts, but class it up by wearing blazers. Most other teams at NVC wore business suits. For Q&A, we knew what questions judges would ask, and we had prepared explanations along with slides to answer them.

We are so excited to have won, and look forward to all that this will bring for us moving forward. Thanks to all the mentors, judges, friends, and family who helped make the win possible!