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On Tuesday September 29th, I had the privilege to witness the Polsky Accelerator Demo Day held at The University of Chicago. It was an educational and inspirational event as several student teams presented innovative startup ideas, many of which have potential for significant social or economic impact.

Now in its sixth year, the Polsky Accelerator has become well-known for the strong portfolio of companies it has helped (currently 56 teams) – including notable alumni such as BallotReady, Moneythink, and ZipFit Denim. Alum companies have raised more than $10 million in funding – with three companies having been acquired (HireBrite, matchist, and SmartLine).

The 2017 Polsky Accelerator teams receive a $10,000 investment from the Polsky Center, and all are headquartered at the Polsky Exchange. The day included presentations from the following teams:

AutoMech is a car owner’s concierge for every aspect of car servicing, saving the car owner time and bringing convenience. We locate high quality service shops, obtain competitive quotes, schedule the service at a convenient time when the car is idle, and take the car to and from servicing.

BrideGuide is a collaboration platform that solves every bride’s greatest wedding planning challenge: the stressful – and often awkward – coordination amongst different groups of friends, family members, and in-laws. Through features like group forums, surveys, task assignments and shared checklists, BrideGuide will allow brides to seamlessly collaborate with their core team on planning events like the bridal shower, bachelorette party, and wedding.

F&A Specialty Foods is aiming to redefine premium salmon processed products in the U.S.

Bee Nana is a frozen dessert innovation in indulgence – “nice cream” – that is tasty, pure, and simple. At a competitive price, Frönen offers a solution for sweet satisfaction without compromising quality or health. Comprised of overripe bananas, honey, and a hint of lemon juice, our product base is low-calorie and naturally allergen free! With larger scale production, we will incorporate direct trade methods for ingredient sourcing and reduce food waste by using upcycled bananas.

KitcheNet provides families in food insecure areas with meal kits for easy cooking and healthy eating.

Provide is passionate about helping low-income families access quality child care, and helping child care providers build sustainable businesses. Provide’s software-based back office increases child care providers’ profits by automating government-facing administrative work, including public funding, licensing, and accreditation. By making the subsidy application easier, we help providers open more spots for low income families, most of whom are not enrolled in the programs they qualify for.

Sinsal is developing an innovative water treatment technology that will allow energy companies to recycle the wastewater produced from hydraulic fracturing operations.

SmarterCloud is a cybersecurity company that uses machine learning to prevent internal data breaches on cloud infrastructure. We prevent employees from leaking critical data at large, highly-regulated enterprises. Currently, we are developing our beta product and have an enterprise proof of concept engaged. With the SmarterCloud solution, businesses can finally rest easy.

Waaves is an online platform that enables independent musicians to find and work with the perfect collaborator in real-time to create new, original music. We are removing the hassles that come with online collaboration so musicians can focus on what they do best: creating music.

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