New Year, New State of Mind, NVC

2016 is here, and New Year’s resolutions are in full swing. When the New Year started, millions around the world awoke with renewed hopes and plans, strengthened commitment to goals old and new. The New Year means different things to different individuals such as working out more, eating more organic food, and reading more books. To many people, the New Year means…

A chance to start fresh and make new friends.
A chance to erase all the worries, fears, and mistakes of the year before and replace them with something positive.
A chance to forgive & forget & move forward. To find a better way by learning from our mistakes.
A new chance to forgive ourselves and others.
A chance to start new goals or even old ones and work our way towards completing them with even more excitement.

Well… for Chicago Booth students, the New Year brings the Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge (NVC) and a chance for students to vet their new business ideas.

As you walk into Harper Center, Booth student conversations become, “Are you entering into NVC (New Venture Challenge)?” “Can I be on your team?” “Wow that is a great idea!”

The New Venture Challenge buzz commences in January and doesn’t end till the end of April. Now to shed some light on what the NVC finals are like… Imagine a room full of people, judges listening closely to every word the contestants utter, students sitting in the back taking notes, parents praying for the success of their child’s venture, and photographers snapping pictures left and right.

The room is simply ELECTRIC… Students (The World’s Next Entrepreneurs) are pouring their hearts out over the ideas they have built months prior. Usually, the event starts with a commencement speech from Professor Steve Kaplan, Neubauer Family Distinguished Service Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance, who cofounded the entrepreneurship program at Booth and helped start NVC in 1996.

When teams present in the competition in April, each one has time to present their venture and then answer thought-provoking questions from a panel of judges. The ventures have diverse teams and ideas. There are a wide array of accents, colors, and personalities that only Booth could pull together. Likewise, the judges came from diverse industries and backgrounds in order to provide useful feedback to the contestants. They ask questions about technology, competition, funding, and barriers to entry, feasibility, and team members. Many take this feedback on board and then have significant engagement with suppliers or customers.

Both NVC and  its social counterpart the John Edwardson, ’72, Social New Venture Challenge (SNVC) give teams a platform to build businesses through a rigorous and experience-based learning. Throughout the process of building their start-ups, the teams take classes that provide learnings around various parts of their businesses. In the Spring Quarter, during the Special Topics in Entrepreneurship course (if selected for NVC), NVC teams practice this type of questioning on a regular basis.

And, so to take it back throughout NVC’s history, there has been a number of successful ventures and stories, which is why NVC been ranked as the number 1 startup university accelerator and number 4 accelerator in the country. Have you ever heard of GrubHub, PrettyQuick, and Braintree? Yep, those ventures started right here.

NVC Timeline

February 4, 2016: NVC Feasibility Summaries Due
February 24, 2016: NVC Phase II Teams Announced
March 1, 2016: NVC Phase II Orientation
May 6, 2016: NVC Business Plans Due
May 25, 2016: NVC Phase III Finalist Teams Announced
May 26–June 2, 2016: UChicago Innovation Week
June 2, 2016: NVC Finals / Polsky Innovation Showcase

Watch Video: Chicago Booth Helps Entrepreneurs Build Their Dreams »

Stay tuned for my next post about “from start to exit” from Chicago Booth’s Full-Time Program.

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