Eight startups to compete in Alumni New Venture Challenge finals

Polsky Center to host eight teams from around the globe for inaugural program

The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation has selected the finalists for its Alumni New Venture Challenge, a new global program dedicated to supporting University of Chicago alumni in the process of launching and developing startup companies.

Eight teams are part of the competition, the newest track of the nationally ranked Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge. The Alumni NVC finalists represent a diverse set of UChicago alumni, including graduates of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, the undergraduate College and master’s programs at UChicago.

The Alumni NVC began with 35 teams from across the globe selected to participate in the second phase of the competition. The teams were divided among five different global regions: East Coast, West Coast, Midwest, Europe and Asia. In each region, the Polsky Center partnered with alumni to work directly with each team, providing support, educational content, resources and programming.

Over the course of the last two weeks, semifinal pitch events took place at each of the regional headquarters, including New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, London and Bangalore, India. At each semifinal, teams pitched their business plans to experienced entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.

The 2019 Alumni NVC finalists, which will present May 2 in Chicago, include:


Duuno is a research-based, online platform that teaches foreign languages to children ages 1 to 12 using the Duuno Method (short-duration, high-frequency, 1-on-1 lessons with native speakers).


Taplingua enables hotels to train their frontline workers in foreign language skills via their phone, helping them increase customer satisfaction, revenues and efficiency while reducing training costs. 

East Coast

Cibus Health provides medically tailored meals through an aggregator platform, supporting health and recovery.


Vroom Delivery is the first e-commerce platform designed for the $237 billion convenience store industry. Vroom’s model allows stores to deliver their products, including regulated items such as alcohol and tobacco. 

SimBioSys empowers comprehensive precision medicine in cancer care through its computational medicine platform to improve patient outcomes and eliminate cost of ineffective treatments. Its cloud-based modeling application allows physicians to create a personalized virtual 3-D tumor for a patient and assess the efficacy of treatments.

Care Advisors helps hospitals get paid more from the government through its Medicaid enrollment software, which automates the manual process of enrolling patients in Medicaid. 

West Coast

Begin is a premium, organic direct-to-consumer business for infant and toddler formula.

Den Living builds living spaces that make city dwelling more affordable and humane. The first product is a full-size private bedroom that allows roommates to share rent without sacrificing privacy.