Firms started by Chicago Booth students receive $85 million in funding during past year

Eleven companies that students at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business started have received more than $85 million in venture capital funding during the past year, the school announced July 12. 

“Entrepreneurship is thriving at Chicago Booth,” said Steven Kaplan, faculty director of Chicago Booth’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship.

Since the start of the school’s Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge in 1996, 65 companies have raised more than $180 million in funding and have created nearly 1,000 jobs, said Kaplan, who also is the Neubauer Family Distinguished Service Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance. In addition to the venture capital which firms raised, Booth has awarded $750,000 to businesses that got their start in the school’s business plan competition.

One of the recent new business success stories from Booth is Braintree, a company that helps businesses process credit card payments. The firm received $34 million in funding from Accel Partners last month. Bryan Johnson, a 2007 Booth graduate, founded Braintree, which won the 2007 New Venture Challenge. 

Other companies started at Booth that received funding during the past year include GrubHub, an online resource for finding and ordering restaurant food for delivery, and Bump Technologies, developer of the Bump app for smartphones. GrubHub, whose funding came from Benchmark Capital and other sources, tied for first place in the 2006 New Venture Challenge while Bump, funded by Sequoia Capital, Andreessen Horowitz and others, tied for first in 2009. BenchPrep, the 2010 winner, received funding this year from Lightbank, the firm that helped Groupon get started.

The remaining seven companies that received funding this year are EduLender, FeeFighters, Future Simple, InContext Solutions, Quantitative Insights, Power2Switch and TurboBOTZ.

“Entrepreneurship is one of the most popular concentrations for our MBA students,” Kaplan said. “Even students who don’t plan to start a business when they graduate say they benefit from the skills taught in our entrepreneurship courses.”

Booth offers 25 entrepreneurship and related courses, which incorporate the strengths of finance, economics and strategy. Several of these courses also provide hands-on learning opportunities for the students. Courses include entrepreneurial finance and private equity, new venture strategy, entrepreneurial selling, and developing new products and services.

Entrepreneur magazine recently ranked Booth’s entrepreneurship program second in an international survey of graduate programs. In addition, Inc magazine ranked the school’s course in entrepreneurial selling as one of its ten best courses.