I always knew that I wanted to participate in the New Venture Challenge since I had heard so much about it when I was applying to Booth. Don’t know what the New Venture Challenge is? Gordon gave a good summary of it here. My interest in NVC grew once spring quarter arrived my first year and I found out that some of my friends were on teams like Maestro (now Tovala) or Weelio (both teams that competed in the 2015 New Venture Challenge). I saw them wearing their team shirts, prepping for pitches, and sharing the new milestones their companies were reaching in a matter of weeks.
This year, I’m getting to participate in the excitement too!
I’m a part of a team called Freenters, which allows college students to download a printing driver that will insert an advertisement for every 5th page that they print. In return for allowing these ads, students get money that they can cash out via PayPal. With a team made up of Boothies and non Boothies, spread out between Chicago and Nashville, building up Freenters and making full use of all the resources NVC has to offer (advice from coaches, connections to investors, etc.) has been challenging and exhilarating.
So, how do you join NVC? Of course, you might already have an idea that you think is the next big thing. All you need to do is to gather the right people. With all the interest Boothies have in NVC, this shouldn’t be a problem, and you might have your team just from meeting classmates, well before the first deadline in February. If you are still looking for more talent, there’s always the spreadsheet where teams needing people and people who don’t have a startup idea, but want to join a team, can sign up and connect. That’s how one of my teammates, Simon Holstein, joined Freenters. Even if you are studying abroad during Winter Quarter and missing out on the action (as I was) there are still ways to join. I joined Freenters because I knew Rho Kook Song, the CEO and one of the founders. I knew him because we were in the same squad during LEAD and the topic came up while we were catching up at the Harper Hyde Park campus on a random day during Fall quarter.
Finally, can you only join NVC if you plan on working in a startup full time after graduation? The answer is NO! I will be working full time in Brand Management for after graduation. However, I still wanted to join NVC because it would give me another opportunity to use my marketing skills while also building other useful skills such as talking to investors, presenting, or distilling an entire business into a 12 minute pitch. Plus, it’s fun! The first round of pitches just wrapped up yesterday and I’m looking forward to the second rounds in May!