Posted by Ally Batty on June 3, 2015
BallotReady, an online voter guide providing tailored information on candidates and referendums listed on local ballots, won first place and $30,000 at last week's John Edwardson, '72, Social New Venture Challenge (SNVC) finals. In second place and receiving $20,000 was Arev Armenia, a nonprofit seeking to spur economic development in rural Armenia.
The SNVC, which is run by Booth's Social Enterprise Initiative in partnership with the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, is the social impact track of UChicago's business launch competition, the Edward L. Kaplan, '71, New Venture Challenge.
Smarter Voters = Higher Turnout?
As a result of a dearth of easily accessible, high-quality information on candidates, many voters stay away from the polls or don't complete their ballots. BallotReady utilizes a user's zip code to compile a tailored list of candidates, as well as their biographic information, positions on key issues, and endorsements. Today BallotReady is only available in Chicago, but plans are underway to expand nationwide by the 2016 presidential election.
Creating a Sweet Market for Armenian Farmers
Arev Armenia is on a mission to bring Armenian honey and other natural goods to the international market. Arev hopes to increase the income of existing farmers and plans to reinvest profits in providing new farmers with equipment, training, and funding to help launch local production
Growing Social Entrepreneurship at UChicago
As the winners of the fifth annual SNVC, BallotReady joins a growing community of social entrepreneurs at Chicago Booth and across the university. This community is supported by SNVC sponsors including Edward L. Kaplan, ’71; John Edwardson, '72; Ron Tarrson, '72; David F. Good, '67, and Rosemary H. Good; and Quarles and Brady, LLP.
Through the SNVC program, teams benefited from coaching and mentoring from Booth faculty, alumni, industry experts, as well as SEI's Social Entrepreneur in Residence, David Friedman, '89, and the school's visiting artist, John Michael Schert.
Among BallotReady's advisors is Institute of Politics (IOP) director and Harris Distinguished Senior Fellow David Axelrod. The team also receives support through IOP's Student Civic Engagement (SCE) Program. BallotReady team members Alex Niemczewski, AB '09; Harris School of Public Policy student Aviva Rosman, AB '10; and Sebastian Ellefson, AB '03, are members of the Chicago Innovation Exchange. The team participated in the university’s I-Corps program and will go through the Polsky Accelerator Program this summer.
The Arev Armenia team, including Booth students Arin Aghazarian and David Dedeyan, Harris student Sona Margaryan, and Law School student Henrik Dumanian, came into the SNVC with a strong entrepreneurship foundation. Aghazarian went through the NVC competition in 2014 on the winning Simple Mills team.