Starr Marcello oversees the strategic development of the Polsky Center and works with University of Chicago students, faculty, and staff to launch the next generation of high-impact ventures as the Polsky Center’s executive director. She has been with the Center since 2005.
She runs the Edward L. Kaplan New Venture Challenge (NVC), which awards over $1M in funding and services to top entrepreneurial companies each year. The NVC is ranked the #1 university accelerator program in the nation. Since 1996, the NVC has fostered more than 800 start-ups, with 180+ that are still in operation and growing strong, has created thousands of jobs, and has produced exits of over nearly $6 billion, including Grubhub (NYSE: GRUB) and Braintree (acquired by eBay’s PayPal for $800 million). In 2017, Starr testified before the U.S. Congress’ Committee on Small Business on the role of accelerator programs in creating new jobs and positively influencing economic development.
With funding from the National Science Foundation, Starr launched the Polsky Center I-Corps Program and helped designate the University of Chicago as an official I-Corps site in 2014. Through this interdisciplinary program, Starr teaches the customer development process and human-centered design to researchers and technologists on campus with the goal of helping teams test the commercial viability of their STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) projects.
Starr sits on the Executive Advisory Board of TechWeek and has been a board member for United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USABE).
Starr holds a BA from Wesleyan University and both an MA and MBA from the University of Chicago.