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Author's profile photo Don Ginocchio

VentureCat 2017 Finals at Northwestern University

On Thursday May 24th, I had the privilege to represent SAP at VentureCat 2017 held at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. I was joined by Casey Condon of ASUG and David Fowler of SAP for the startup team presentations.

VentureCat is Northwestern’s annual student startup competition showcasing and celebrating the best of the best student founded ventures. The event culminated with a pitch competition, where more than $100,000 in prize money was distributed by an esteemed panel of judges.

VentureCat is an evolution of the Northwestern University Venture Challenge (NUVC), which was originally introduced in 2007. From inception, NUVC has distinguished itself from other pitch competitions around the globe by organizing competitors in industry-specific tracks, which leverages the rich expertise of distinct schools from across the university in both graduate and undergraduate programs, and awarding top teams with non-dilutive capital.

Entrepreneurship at Northwestern is made possible by a dedicated community of innovators and thought leaders who share a passion for building new ideas:

  • The Garage is Northwestern’s hub for student entrepreneurship and innovation. It brings together a cross-disciplinary community of students, faculty, staff and alumni who all share a passion for building new ideas.
  • Northwestern has many innovation-focused clubs and student organizations, many of which meet at The Garage like EPIC, KEO, e-Club, Arch Capital, Design for America, and WildHacks.
  • Classes through NUVention, the Farley Center’s interdisciplinary academic program exposes students to the innovation and entrepreneurial life cycle.
  • Minors in the Harvey Kapnick Business Institutions Program (BIP) program, are open to all undergraduates regardless of major or home school. BIP believes that the study of business can be approached through a thoughtful investigation of the cultural, political, philosophical, literary, and social sources and consequences of business institutions.
  • Design courses in the Segal Design Institute educate innovators and design thinkers while expanding the research frontiers of human-centered design.
  • MBA students can join the Kellogg Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative, which helps business leaders discover new ideas and turn them into valuable goods and services.

Twenty-five semifinalist teams participated in a four-week Semifinalist Pitch Prep Program, supporting the teams with pitch coaching, advice from industry experts, and professional graphic design support. On May 24, those 25 teams competed in one of six tracks: Business Products and Services, Consumer Products and Services, Green Energy and Sustainability, Life Sciences and Medical Innovations, Social Enterprises and Nonprofit, and Transportation and Mobility. The 1st place winner of each track listed below took the main stage to compete for the grand prize at the Finals.

It was an exciting and engaging evening and I was thrilled to see Intelligent Flying Machines, a startup with strong ties to SAP solutions win the grand prize! All the finalists are described below.

Business Products and Services (B to B)

Quickpulse: Despite spending 40 billion dollars on development programs every year, turnover has increased in China’s service industries as millennial crave meaningful work, recognition, and development. Corporations in China lack the right systems to listen and respond to these needs. Quickpulse is the answer: because every person matters. 

Consumer Products and Services (B to C)

Welltended: Welltended is the houseplant selection & delivery service for city-dwellers. The user selects a gorgeous houseplant & beautiful, modern planter, and then Welltended will pair it with potting soil, plant it, and deliver it. Welltended provides easy-to-follow care instructions, taking the hassle and stress out of tending well to houseplants. Welltended is a current Resident Team of The Garage.

Energy and Sustainability

Aerospec Technologies: Aerospec’s unmanned aerial system (UAS) efficiently identify, analyze, and predict equipment failures to maximize asset performance in the renewable energy industry.

Life Sciences and Medical Innovations

Actualize Therapy: Our treatment solution will offer university counseling services another option to address the behavioral health of their student population by specifically targeting depression and anxiety in a way that is most convenient to students aged 18-26.

Social Impact and Nonprofit

Tiltas: Tiltas is a web-based platform aimed at easing the re-entry process for returning citizens and reducing recidivism. Tiltas has a two-stage proposal to reach this goal. First, Tiltas serves as a social network and online resource for returning citizens. Second, Tiltas connects returning citizens with employment opportunities. Tiltas is currently a Resident Team of The Garage.

Transportation and Mobility

Intelligent Flying Machines, Inc.: IFM is a Data Analytics Company that uses Machine Learning, Computer Vision, and Robotics to automate indoor data capture. With corporate partners such as BMW, NVIDIA, SAP, Honeywell, and Here, as well as customers spanning the leaders of automotive manufacturing and logistics providers, IFM uses its technology to improve the operational efficiency of enterprises and unleash productivity in the workforce. IFM is currently a Resident Team of The Garage.

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