Startups with societal impact compete in Social New Venture Challenge finals

Seven teams chosen to pitch for funding in business launch competition

Seven teams have been selected to pitch their social impact startups during the finals of the John Edwardson, ’72, Social New Venture Challenge on May 22.

The SNVC, a track of the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation’s nationally ranked Edward L. Kaplan, ’71 New Venture Challenge, is one of the nation’s first social venture competitions and has helped more than 90 companies and nonprofits since it began in 2011.

“Every year, we’re impressed by the creativity of our teams in addressing their stated challenges,” said Robert H. Gertner, the Joel F. Gemunder Professor of Strategy and Finance at Chicago Booth and the John Edwardson Faculty Director of the Rustandy Center. “But this year they’ve pleased us with the degree to which they’ve proven their viability in the market.”

Past winners of the Social New Venture Challenge, which is run in collaboration with Chicago Booth’s Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation, include BallotReady, the online voter guide founded by Alex Niemczewski, AB’09, and Aviva Rosman, MPP’16; and LuminAID, the solar-powered lamp for disaster relief founded by Andrea Sreshta, MBA’16.

SNVC finalists will present to a panel of distinguished judges and compete for $75,000 in startup capital and $40,000 in additional specialized awards during the eighth annual competition. Doors open for SNVC finals at 9:15 a.m. in Harper Center, C-25, and remarks will start at 10 a.m.

Winners will be announced at the Taste the Impact Reception in Harper Center, Room 104. The SNVC Finals also will be streamed live. Register to attend or livestream the 2018 SNVC Finals and the Taste the Impact Reception here.

The finalist teams that will be presenting include:

  • Unbreakable, a 10-week, anti-bullying online video program that focuses on empowering youth by improving their self-confidence and coping skills using scientifically proven psychological techniques.
  • VouchCircle, a professional networking platform for underserved communities.
  • Shakti, which empowers functionally illiterate women in India to enforce their rights and access legal and public health resources. 
  • Insights for Impact, a for-profit social enterprise that helps small to medium nonprofit organizations realize the use of data within their organizations.
  • Gather Activism, a digital platform for political activism.
  • Mighty, a free online and mobile marketplace for the public to deposit money in secure, community-investing banks.
  • AIM Clinics, which provides the gold standard autism therapy to children in rural U.S. communities.