Chicago Booth announces 2017 winners of New Venture Challenge

AMOpportunities, a startup connecting international medical students to U.S. clinical rotations, wins first place. Finalists share in $400,000 cash prizes.

AMOpportunities team

The University of Chicago Booth School of Business and the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation are pleased to announce the winners of the 21st annual Edward L. Kaplan, '71, New Venture Challenge (NVC), a top-ranked accelerator program in the nation.

A record 11 companies competed in this year’s finals, reflecting the strength of the startups competing this year. Finalist companies covered a range of industries and services, and included four teams of women entrepreneurs.

Finalists shared in a $400,000 cash prize pool—which was increased from $350,000 during the judges’ deliberation, thanks to increased support from OCA Ventures and The Caruso Family Foundation.

Winners of the 2017 NVC are as follows:

AMOpportunities, a marketplace that enables international medical trainees to attend U.S. clinical rotations, won first place and $100,000, including $20,000 for its acceptance into the Pritzker Group Venture Fellows Program this summer; $25,000 from OCA Ventures; $25,000 from The Caruso Family Foundation; and $30,000 from the Polsky Center. AMOpportunities connects international students and trainees to over 300 educational programs hosted by U.S. institutions, hospitals, clinics, and physicians.

Switched Source, a company focused on increasing the reliability and efficiency of the last mile of electricity delivery, took home second place and $80,000, including the $10,000 Rattan L. Khosa, MBA '79, Maker Award; $30,000 from the Polsky Center; and $40,000 from the Vijay, ’77, and Sita Vashee Award for Innovation through Partnerships. Switched Source is commercializing a patented power electronics device, which gives electric distribution companies a new level of control for managing power flows on the distribution grid.

Ezza, a company that specializes in manicures for the modern woman, won third place and $75,000, which includes $25,000 from OCA Ventures; $25,000 from The Caruso Family Foundation; $20,000 for acceptance into the Pritzker Group Venture Fellows Program this summer; and $5,000 from the Polsky Center. Ezza provides consistent, high-quality manicures without the fuss by offering seamless online booking, cashless tip-included pricing, and early morning hours.

ClostraBio, a company developing new drugs that will enable patients living with food allergies to eat the allergenic food without fear of an allergic reaction, took fourth place and $40,000 from the Polsky Center. ClostraBio’s drugs boost the body’s natural intestinal barrier, stopping the reaction before it starts.

In fifth place, there was a tie between SmarterCloud, TAINA, and 4Women, all of which took home $20,000 from the Polsky Center. SmarterCloud uses machine learning to keep critical data secure. TAINA, which won the 2017 Global New Venture Challenge in March, has created a technology platform to help financial institutions comply with tax regulations. 4Women offers an at-home, self-collection device for HPV DNA testing.

Banyan, a B2B local food e-commerce platform, placed sixth and won $15,000, including $10,000 from the Vijay, ’77, and Sita Vashee Award for Innovation through Partnerships and $5,000 from the Polsky Center. Banyan’s platform makes it easier, cheaper, and more efficient for farmers, distributors, and chefs to transact locally.

Three very impressive finalists: Phyt, Part Analytics, and Lancealot each took home $10,000 from the Polsky Center. Phyt is focused on improving quality of life through movement by creating a Pilates reformer studio experience at home. Part Analytics is a cloud-based SaaS platform that transforms structured, unstructured, public, and private data into actionable insights for procurement and engineering professionals in the electronics industry. Lancealot is a recruiting platform for hiring freelance video talent.

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