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Special Feature

May 31, 2017

Student startups compete at VentureCat

VentureCat

Student startups compete at VentureCat

Northwestern student startups brought home a total of $100,000 May 24 at the University's annual VentureCat competitionwhere prize money comes with no strings attached and no equity taken.

First place went to Intelligent Flying Machines (IFM), a data analytics company that uses flying robots to automatically count inventory in warehouses. Tiltas, a new type of social network that provides support to formerly incarcerated people who are trying to re-enter society, took home second place. And Quickpulse, a B2B tool for increasing millennial retention rates, placed third.

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.

Industry-specific tracks

VentureCat grouped 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 participated 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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