Anyone interested in entrepreneurship, startups or getting involved with new business ventures has likely heard of the Edward L. Kaplan New Venture Challenge (NVC). Run by the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation here at Booth, NVC is a top-ranked accelerator program in the nation and has graduated over 160 start-up companies still in operation today, including some recognizable names like Braintree, which acquired Venmo and was then later acquired by PayPal in 2013 for $800 million; Bump Technologies, which was acquired by Google in 2013; and GrubHub, which completed an IPO in April 2014.
NVC is truly an incredible program that helps student teams turn ideas into viable businesses. But it takes a lot of hard work and commitment on top of the already demanding commitments of being a Booth student. So I wanted to hear from NVC participants exactly why they wanted to compete in this year’s challenge.
Here’s what they had to say.
Why did you want to compete in NVC?
“NVC is an amazing way for Banyan to really focus on how we can succeed long term in the marketplace. Presenting to a group of experienced, talented investors provides invaluable feedback, criticism and insights that enable us to refine and improve our business.” – Doug Southerland, ’17, Banyan
“Coming from the investor side in private equity, I had spent years working with many successful founders of software companies, but had never had the experience of actually launching a software company from scratch. NVC was the perfect opportunity for me to join a team with an idea for an enterprise software solution and apply my experience to help bring our solution to market. Going through the process of interviewing potential customers, developing our software platform, and pitching to VCs is an incredible way to use skills I’ve learned in other classes at Booth and build my knowledge of how to actually get a business off the ground.” – Tim Bechtold, ’17, Galilexo
“There’s no better way to learn entrepreneurship than actually building a business plan, pitching it to a group of very successful investors, and refining your idea with the help of exceptional Booth faculty.” – Craig Poppelman, ’17, RWEDI Solutions
“I wanted to join NVC because it’s a truly experiential learning experience. We take a real start-up from just an idea to making its first sale to getting actual venture funding. The stakes are real– and I think that’s the best way to understand what it’s like to pursue entrepreneurship after school.” – Cissy Zhou, ’17, Wisegene
“I had a few ideas I’d been considering for awhile, and knew now was the best time; there was definitely a sense of now or never. I was excited about my original idea, but when the concept for The Mint developed Kathy (Co-Founder) and I knew we really had something and hit the ground running.” – Kathleen Wilson, ’17, The Mint
“When I was a prospect looking at Booth, I remember learning about the New Venture Challenge and I immediately knew that I wanted to compete in it! At the time, I had no plans of starting my own business or going into entrepreneurship, but I knew that this would be an invaluable experience and learning opportunity. Fast forward to today, and I am competing in the New Venture Challenge with my own company, EZZA, nail care tailored for the modern, professional woman. Being a part of the New Venture Challenge has given me access to incredible resources, mentorship and guidance that I never would have been able to access without Polsky. From learning how to craft and deliver an engaging pitch to engineering a financial model, I have learned so many critical skills that are going to serve me throughout my professional career.” – Ale Breur, ’17, EZZA
“The ladies of 4Women – Sue, Arshiya, Courtney, and Camille – all have a strong interest and passion for healthcare. We have all worked together before as Healthcare Group Co-Chairs and make a great team. As many of us have an interest in pursuing entrepreneurship, we knew we wanted to join the NVC and work on a healthcare idea in the women’s health space. Like any great team, we came up with the idea together, making us all invested, committed, and very passionate! We are loving the experience and cannot think of a better group of people with whom to learn and start a venture.” – Camille Emma, ’17, 4Women
As you can see, the reasons for competing in NVC vary for every company and entrepreneur, but they are all looking for the same thing, the opportunity to make their business dream an impactful reality!
Learn more about the New Venture Challenge here.