When fellow classmate Jamie Rubinstein mentioned their nail salon business to me for the first time, I immediately related back to the painful three-hour wait when my wife would do her nails. I am always amazed by how great pain points like these are being discovered by the ladies in NVC. Last year, we had a similar team in our section who wanted to develop a quick and easy shaving product for women. Without these teams, there is ABSOLUTELY no way I could possibly get to know such problems as a man. So I am always grateful for the different perspectives brought by these talented, female entrepreneurs. Most importantly, it is not just about nails. Let’s hear about it…
In ten years time, I’m likely to forget about the teams who competed in NVC finals with us last year except for one—a team really changed my view about what diversity means at Booth and NVC, and taught me how passion can transform something from normal to extraordinary—a story about a toilet!
I knew Shane Durkin from the very beginning of Booth as we are in the same LEAD cohort and I saw him as a heroic figure—a Navy SEAL member. We discussed entrepreneurship and the trip to New Zealand he was planning back then. But what really surprised me was the business Shane brought to NVC and how great his final presentation was. Don’t be fooled when he casually mentioned his “ability to make the room laugh.” I made the room laugh, too, but I never got to take the second place and $70,000 back home. Their presentation was definitely my favorite among all finalists, including ours 🙂 Let’s hear about what he thinks about that journey now.
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.
And here’s to the fools who dream
Crazy as they may seem
Here’s to the hearts that break
Here’s to the mess we make
I trace it all back to then
Her, and the snow, and the Seine
Smiling through it
She said she’d do it again…
The song that missed the Oscars by a little says a lot about NVC.
While LemonBox fulfills ours needs to be healthy, we need more music to be happy. For all musicians and fans out there, Waaves could be your Seine. When JC Chang was writing the account below about his idea and the team, he did not know if Waaves would be selected or not on that Thursday. Reading the following, I have no doubt that even if the team didn’t make the cut, he’d do it again… Fast forward and Waaves was selected to compete in NVC, but I think it is important to give credit to everyone who submitted a feasibility summary: “the hearts that break and the mess we make” lead to our future success. Here’s what JC has to say about his company’s NVC journey so far…
Two weeks ago, we started the NVC Series by laying out what you can expect to see. One of the components we want to show is the variety of the businesses involved in the competition — in terms of industry, stage, and management team. To provide a little flavor, throughout the competition we will introduce a few teams from various angles, such as their business ideas, the feelings of the team members during the competition, and lessons learned. We believe it is more interesting and authentic to tell the story with a first person narrative… So here is the first sip of the “juice”: LemonBox from one of the founders, Cindy Nan, ’17.