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Por Adela takes home grand prize in Northwestern student startup competition

Smart fleet management startup wins VentureCat $150,000 first place prize

Executive director Melissa Kaufman of The Garage emcees the livestream.

VentureCat, Northwestern University’s annual startup competition, brought together 25 of the University’s most promising startups in a battle for more than $300,000 in non-dilutive prize money.

The semifinalist teams had representation from every school at Northwestern and included both graduate and undergraduate students. After a long morning giving virtual pitches on May 26, the winners of each of five tracks, along with a sixth wildcard team, advanced to finals to determine a winner.

Por Adela, a smart factoring solution for truckers, won first place and $150,000; second place and $50,000 went to The Equal Opportunity Book Box, a subscription service for diverse children’s books that donates as many books as they sell; and springrose, a line of intimates that centers women with mobility challenges, took home the $25,000 third place prize.

"I'm ecstatic to win this year's VentureCat school-wide competition at Northwestern University," said Jaime Tabachnick, an MBA candidate at the Kellogg School of Management. "Por Adela aims to be a smart factoring solution for small to medium sized truckers to help them grow in Latin America. Following the VentureCat win, we're planning to invest this money into developing more automation for our platform so that we'll focus our resources on growth and customer acquisition to then scale exponentially."  

Though pitches to prominent finalist judges — over half of whom were Northwestern alums — took place in a closed session, the finalists also pitched to a general audience in a public showcase. Hundreds of text votes came in live from audience members voting for their favorite team, and online rental service LUKH took home the $2,000 popularity prize.

Originally called the Northwestern University Venture Challenge (NUVC), VentureCat was originally introduced in 2007. A collaboration among Kellogg, the Farley Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, The Garage and the Donald Pritzker Entrepreneurship Law Center, the 2021 VentureCat season was supported by volunteers who aided in coaching, advising and judging. The Levy Institute for Entrepreneurial Practice co-sponsored the event with Lanny and Sharon Martin. Lanny Martin chairs the board of trustees at Northwestern and received both his bachelor’s and JD degrees from Northwestern.

"I'm always thrilled to see the unique and innovative startup businesses that are developed at Northwestern and showcased at VentureCat,” said Larry Levy MBA ’68, managing partner of Levy Family Partners and a longtime trustee of the University. “The pitch competition is more than just winning the coveted prize money; it also includes mentoring, coaching, design services and more.”

The competition continues to distinguish itself from other pitch competitions around the globe by organizing competitors in five industry-specific tracks: Business products and services; consumer products and services; energy and sustainability; life sciences and medical innovations; and social impact and nonprofit. By breaking down teams into tracks, VentureCat showcases expertise from each school across the University.

Past participants of VentureCat have raised more than $500 million since 2014. Alums report being accepted to prestigious accelerator programs, exiting companies successfully and creating jobs through their business growth.

For more information on winners and semifinalists, visit The Garage’s results page.

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