Social New Venture Challenge Awards Record $ 175K in Investment

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Together.science wins 2022 Social New Venture Challenge (Photo by Anne Ryan)

The Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation are pleased to announce the winners of the John Edwardson, ’72, Social New Venture Challenge (SNVC), the social impact track of the University of Chicago’s nationally ranked business launch program, the New Venture Challenge.

Winners of the 12th annual Edwardson SNVC, which launches enterprises with a social impact mission and a plan for financial sustainability, received a record-breaking total of $ 175,000 in venture funding.

“An all-time high 20 social ventures participated in the Edwardson SNVC this year, tackling issues of sustainability, education, career services, mental health and disability services,” said Rob Gertner, Joel F. Gemunder Professor of Strategy and Finance and John Edwardson Faculty Director Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation. “These UChicago student founders all share a commitment to strengthening their communities, and I’m proud that the Rustandy Center is integral to their impact journeys.”

The winners are:

First Place: ($ 75,000)

together.science // together.science provides students with a free web-based tool to author and check math work individually or in a group, and teachers with an effortless way to demonstrate, share, and assign work, and grade submissions. (School Affiliation: Booth)

Second Place: ($ 50,000)

Learn // Aprendi is a visual content management platform that helps practitioners (ie, individuals who work with children with mental health disorders) efficiently create, customize, and share high-quality therapeutic visual tools with other practitioners and families. (Booth)

Third Place: ($ 30,000)

Demi // Demi is on a mission to make composting mainstream by partnering with apartment buildings to offer convenient and affordable biodegradable composting bins and pick-up services, all easily managed through a mobile app. (Booth)

Fourth Place: ($ 20,000)

Mizaru // Mizaru is an online marketplace changing how the world works together to improve accessibility for people with disabilities. Mizaru’s platform connects people with disabilities with on-demand, pre-vetted freelance service providers. They currently focus on sign language interpreters and facilitators empowering Deaf and DeafBlind people to live more independently. (Booth)

Audience Choice Award: ($ 5,000)

ReHive // ReHive is a deal flow and fundraising platform that helps climate adaptation innovators raise catalytic capital. Their mission is to accelerate the world’s transition into a just and resilient reality by providing a platform that integrates impact management and seamless fund flow for investors and high-impact innovators to scale impact. (Harris)

Viewers of the finals event selected ReHive as the audience choice award winner, earning a $ 5,000 cash prize. The award was open to all SNVC teams who advanced to Phase II of the competition and judged by the in-person and online audiences based on videos each team submitted.

Other Finalists: Aloe Points, Counselors for America, TechPass

Seventeen judges — including experienced social and traditional entrepreneurs, impact investors, nonprofit leaders, and many Chicago Booth alumni — provided feedback throughout the SNVC program. A full list of judges can be found on the SNVC website.

The SNVC is the cornerstone of the Rustandy Center’s Edwardson Social Entrepreneurship Program at the University of Chicago, an initiative named in recognition of a 2016 gift by John Edwardson, ’72, retired chairman and CEO of CDW and co-chair of Advance Illinois. All 2022 SNVC sponsors can be found here.

“Year after year, I am more impressed by the creativity and passion UChicago student entrepreneurs bring to tackling the complex challenges we face in society,” says John Edwardson. “They are building ventures with the potential to grow long past graduation. As we’ve seen, what begins in the Edwardson SNVC today has the potential for global impact tomorrow. ”

By the Numbers

  • Since 2011, the SNVC has helped jump-start more than 150 companies and nonprofits
  • SNVC companies have gone on to raise more than $ 165 million in philanthropic dollars, grant support, and venture capital funding
  • Other notable alumni include: B2B e-commerce platform for Africa’s informal retailers, Wasoko, solar-powered light company LuminAID, online voter guide BallotReady, Nairobi-based tractor leasing company Hello Tractor, autism therapy provider AIM Clinics, Chicago-based nonprofit Debate it Forward, and the 2021 winner, SAEF Legal Aid

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