UIC Startup Challenge winners announced

The Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago has announced the winners for the 11th annual UIC Startup Challenge business plan competition. Winners receive cash and prizes.

The winners presented their business plans to a panel of judges consisting of business leaders, entrepreneurs and investors on April 15 in Student Center East. This year, 156 participants across 56 teams advanced to the UIC Startup Challenge semifinals. Participants represented 12 UIC colleges.

“This year’s Startup Challenge was the most vibrant and diverse by far,” said Nancy Harvey, executive director of the Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies. “You could feel the UIC entrepreneurial spirit! And, that entrepreneurial spirit bubbled up from all over the campus.”

Startup Challenge 2016

(l. to r.) Sofia Sanchez and Austin Robinson, Beet Strong; Rachel Harsley, Clean Slate Messenger

The winners and their business plans are as follows:

FIRST PLACE ($3,000):

Clean Slate Messenger is a digital platform that offers private, instant chat to help youth to control their digital trail through on-demand deletion and captivating letter-by-letter messaging.

SECOND PLACE ($1,000):

Beet Strong is a beet-infused nutrition bar that’s high-protein, high-fiber, and made with real fruits, nuts and chocolate. Ingredients are linked to improved cardiovascular function, athletic performance and muscle building.

Finalists ($500 each):

Arch Fingerskate Corporation produces one of the world’s most creative, innovative and interactive fingerskate platforms and strives to capitalize on a young, emerging fingerskating market.

Clearmaze Technologies is a startup that helps community college students pick the right courses that transfer to a university, using a simple, three-step process.

NeXTSTEP Bank helps students submit one student loan application to receive multiple offers from different banks in order to select the best one to meet their needs.

sĕntēme uses the power of user-generated online content to provide in-depth, automated summaries of people’s opinions, enable customers to make quick buying decisions, and help businesses design better products.

RecoNinja uses artificial intelligence to present fine-tuned recommendations to users, allowing them to spend their valuable time consuming content rather than searching for it.

nexpil, inc. keeps heart failure patients in a homeostatic fluid state, autonomously titrating diuretics via machine-learning software, utilizing existing hardware technology to collect and deliver data.

Hizzah is the education platform for young, active learners who want a more engaging experience by integrating learning with analytics and exciting multiplayer games.

Early Venture Track Recognition: ($500):

Ecoair is an interdisciplinary team focusing on a sustainable lifestyle for cost-efficient consumers by combining engineering and marketing mindsets to deliver a desirable product.

Clutch for Life gives prison inmates a second chance at success by allowing them to handcraft luxury bags for their community.

ShoeBoxOne has evolved from the traditionally burdensome shoe storage and was created to fulfill every shoe collector’s dream.  A single solution to protect and present customers most valuable possessions.

Pear Loans, Inc. matches investors with small businesses through a patented online lending platform that provides faster funding, better rates and asset backed security.

Elevator Pitch/Fan Favorite ($750):

International Youth & Children Sports Development focuses on developing international sports programs for UIC international students and more than 1 million current students in Beijing, China.

Details on all winning teams are online.

The Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies is part of, and supported by, the UIC College of Business Administration.