College New Venture Challenge

On May 18th, UChicago Careers in Entrepreneurship and the Polsky Center  for Entrepreneurship and Innovation hosted the final round of the UChicago College New Venture Challenge at 401 N. Michigan. The challenge gave student entrepreneurs the opportunity to create a viable plan for an enterprise with an innovative component with the guidance and support of alumni mentors.

Out of the 40 teams that participated, second place and $5,000 was awarded to FunPower, who is developing a compact elliptical device and gaming platform to address fitness, productivity and collaboration issues. The first place team, Freenters, received $10,000 to put towards their venture, a business that provides free printing services to university students by placing multifunctional printers in various campus locations. The Freenters team includes Rho Kook Song, AB ’14, Hyesung Kim, AB ’14, and Paul Park, AB ’13.

“This whole process [of The College New Venture Challenge] brought Freenters to the next level at the end of the day,” said Hyesung Kim. “There were a lot of potential investors engaged in this and to connect with them was a huge value for us.”

While UChicago has hosted two social innovation competitions in the past, this was the first year that the competition was branded as the undergraduate focused track of Chicago Booth’s New Venture Challenge, which has helped launch more than 85 companies since it began in 1996.

The College New Venture Challenge, which started in the fall quarter, was broken down into three phases. From the 40 teams that submitted plans for a for-profit or non-profit startup, 15 semifinalists were chosen and received feedback in order to revise and resubmit their plans. Five of those teams were then named finalists and selected to present to the panel of judges. In addition to the Freenters and FunPower, Lumonik, Truckate, and wE.coli participated in the finals and were each awarded $1,000 to put towards their venture.

“Everyone who participates gets the opportunity to be exposed to entrepreneurship,” said Jerry Huang, UChicago Careers in Entrepreneurship Program Director. “Staff and professors are available to help but there is very little handholding.  I think this year students were able to advance their business ideas to a further stage than previous years.”

Moving forward, the College New Venture Challenge is expected to expand and also resemble the New Venture Challenge even more with the opening of the final judging to a public audience.

“We hope that a lot more students join the College New Venture Challenge in the future,” said Rho Kook Song. “It was a great opportunity for all the teams to present their ideas and make connections.”

For more information on the UChicago Careers in Entrepreneurship program or the College New Venture Challenge, please contact Program Director Jerry Huang at jhuang@uchicago.edu or visit https://careeradvancement.uchicago.edu/uchicago-careers-in/entrepreneurship

College New Venture Challenge