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Special Feature

May 15, 2017

Student startups compete at VentureCat


Northwestern student startups pitch for $100,000 in capital

Northwestern’s best and brightest student startups compete May 24 for $100,000 in the annual VentureCat competition where prize money comes with no strings attached and no equity taken.

Winning teams present a compelling problem and solution to a panel of judges and the University community. Unlike many other university competitions, VentureCat includes undergraduate and graduate students across many disciplines and represent diverse, innovative perspectives. “Students of many backgrounds play a central role in Northwestern's strategy to create a vibrant and distinctive entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Alicia Löffler, executive director of the Innovation and New Ventures Office, one of the key campus sponsors of VentureCat.

This year's VentureCat emcee is Samir Mayekar, co-founder and CEO of SiNode Systems. The company won nearly $1 million at the Rice Business Plan Competition while Mayekar was a student in the Kellogg School of Management.

Check out the schedule, and RSVP to attend the finals.

Industry-specific tracks

VentureCat groups 25 teams into industry-specific tracks to leverage the rich expertise of diverse schools from across Northwestern, which creates a field of undergraduates as well as higher-level students. The winner of each track will take to the main stage to compete for a $35,000 prize.

Pitch prep

What makes a winning pitch?

New this year, all 25 semifinal teams are participating in an intensive pitch prep program featuring faculty, staff, industry experts and professional graphic designers. Melissa Kaufman, executive director of The Garage, shares three tips to a winning pitch.

Previous winners

Northwestern is cultivating a community of future leaders and innovators who learn from, teach and encourage each other as they forge new paths. Previous winners exemplify ways in which students at Northwestern channel their creativity into original, inspiring ventures.

Surgical Innovation Associates

Surgical Innovation Associates

“VentureCat was a game changer for us. It helped us get up and running and contributed to the development of the product, which is now finished and ready for preclinical trials.” - Alexei Mlodinow

About the company
Eat Pakd

Eat Pakd

"VentureCat had a meaningful impact on our business that exceeded the prize money itself. The competition provided us with visibility to Chicago community members who became both investors and valuable mentors." - Nate Cooper

About the company
The Graide Network

The Graide Network

"The support and encouragement we received following VentureCat gave us the confidence and resources to hire a team and grow our impact 10 times year over year, helping high-needs students from Chicago and now new cities across the country." - Blair Pircon

About the company
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