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Chicago Booth Announces 2011 New Venture Challenge Winners


Agile Diagnosis Wins Top Prize at 15th Annual Business Competition

The University of Chicago Booth School of Business and its Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship are pleased to announce the winners of the 15th Annual Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge, the school’s premier business competition.

The NVC spans the full academic year and helps students launch and run new businesses. The day-long finals competition concluded with the announcement of the winning teams, who receive prizes in the form of cash, legal services, profes­sional consulting, and incubator space in the ARCH Venture Partners New Business Incubator, housed within the Polsky Center. This year’s winners, chosen from a group of 10 finalists, include:

  • Agile Diagnosis, which won the first place prize of $25,000. Agile Diagnosis is a platform of software tools that help healthcare professionals make better decisions by intelligently guiding them step-by-step from symptom to diagnosis. AD builds on years of research at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine and provides instant access to expert opinion boiled down into clear best-next-step recommendations. The team comprises doctors and MBA students, and recently won first place at the Chicago Biomedical Consortium Business Plan Competition.
  • Sibylus placed second and received the $18,000 prize. Sibylus provides digital coursepacks that save students time and money. Additionally, Sibl.us gives professors reading recommendations, the ability to update coursepacks at any time, and metrics on student preparation.
  • Pretty Quick™ tied for third and received $10,000. Pretty Quick™ is a web-based community that directly links beauty service consumers with a robust, curated network of salons and spas.
  • Swingbyte tied for third and received $10,000. Swingbyte is a mobile golf swing analyzer and visualizer. The patent-pending device captures the trajectory of a golf club and relays it to a smart phone and the web for instantaneous and subsequent analysis.

“We congratulate all the teams that participated in the New Venture Challenge – this truly was an exceptional year,” said Ellen Rudnick, executive director of the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship. “One of our judges said to me, ‘the quality of the businesses is so good that the New Venture Challenge has ceased to be a business plan competition and more of a business launchpad.’”

Since its launch in 1996, the NVC has awarded $750,000 to date and has helped launch more than 65 companies, which have gone on to raise more than $145 million in funding and have created nearly 1,000 jobs. NVC companies include Bump, GrubHub, brightroom, MedSpeed, and Watermelon Express.

This year’s other finalists include Line I Jump, a mobile application that allows customers to pay restaurant and bar tabs using their smartphones; mHealth Solutions, which leverages mobile devices to improve chronic disease management and reduce healthcare costs; NewDog Technology, whose FoodScout mobile application helps consumers quickly find restaurants, saving them time and money; Owl Invest, an online platform designed to help the average young professional to adopt better financial habits and invest wisely; Playence, a web-based multimedia management suite that provides corporations efficient annotation and access to multimedia assets; and Real-Time Analytics, a data acquisition and analytics company specializing in consumer insights in the alcohol industry. These teams each received $2,000 in seed funding.

The success of the NVC is made possible through the generous support of corporate and individual sponsors. The title sponsor for the past 15 years is Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, founder and former chairman and CEO of Zebra Technologies. Other sponsors this year include Abbott Laboratories, Robert and W. Keren Vishny, Market Strategy Group, Immanuel Thangaraj, ’93, Barnes & Thornburg LLP, Steven N. Kaplan, Reed Smith LLP, DaVinci Virtual, ARCH Venture Partners, AlphaGraphics, and Deloitte Consulting.

About the New Venture Challenge
The NVC process includes two phases and a finals competition. During the fall, students from Chicago Booth pitch business ideas, collaborate, and form teams. In early February, student teams submit feasibility summaries about their proposed ventures, and a number of teams are then selected to advance to the second phase, where they develop their ideas into full business plans with instructor guidance and critique from venture capitalists, private investors, and established entrepreneurs. Finalist teams are selected to present at the finals competition before a world-class panel of investors and entrepreneurs, who determine the winners.

The NVC expanded globally in 2008 to allow Executive MBA students and alumni from around the world to participate. The Global NVC track is designed to fit the needs of students in disparate locations by engaging alumni and industry experts throughout the world to assist in marketing, coaching, and individual mentoring. Judging sessions for Global NVC semi-finalists take place in London and Singapore, with finalists presenting before a panel of judges in Chicago in March.

This year, given growing student interest in social entrepreneurship, the NVC curriculum was expanded through an analogous challenge focused on new social ventures. Modeled after the traditional NVC, the Social NVC spans several months, allowing students to conceptualize, develop, and launch new social ventures through classroom instruction, mentorship, and coaching. Qualifying companies and organizations can be structured either as for-profits or nonprofits but must show a focus on social impact as well as a model for financial sustainability—either through profits, earned income, philanthropy, government aid, or some combination thereof.

About the Polsky Center
The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship is the leading resource for Chicago Booth students and alumni as they pursue entrepreneurial endeavors and private equity careers. The center supports entrepreneurial development through its cutting-edge curriculum, innovative hands-on learning experiences, leading faculty research, conferences, and community and global outreach programs. Entrepreneurship is the second largest concentration at Chicago Booth, and, with an impressive growing network of students and alumni as entrepreneurs, the Polsky Center is dedicated to expanding and capitalizing on this vibrant and active sector of our economy. For more information visit the Polsky Center website.

About the University of Chicago Booth School of Business
The University of Chicago Booth School of Business is one of the leading business schools in the world. Chicago Booth's faculty includes many renowned scholars and its graduates include many business leaders across the U.S. and worldwide. Booth offers a full-time M.B.A. program, an evening M.B.A. program, a weekend M.B.A. program and an executive M.B.A. program in Chicago, London and Singapore. The school also offers a Ph.D. program, open enrollment executive education, and custom corporate education. For more information, visit the Chicago Booth website.