VentureCat 2023: The Results!

Northwestern’s Annual Student Startup Competition returns to campus for its 10th year.
Event Recaps
Jun 1, 2023

Northwestern's Annual Student Startup Competition returns to campus for its 10th year.

VentureCat 2023 was held on May 31, 2023 and featured the best and brightest Northwestern student-founded ventures competing across five industry tracks for a non-dilutive prize pool of more than $325,000! You can learn more about the 25 semifinalist teams that competed this year here

While we were busy watching the pitches live, we were also thrilled to welcome a virtual audience to join us via livestream. You can watch the entire VentureCat 2023 Public Showcase Livestream recording below.

This year, VentureCat again distributed more than $325,000 in non-dilutive funding to competing student ventures thanks to sponsorship and donor contributions. Thank you to the Levy Institute and to Lanny and Sharon Martin for generous gifts this year. We’d also like to thank Exelon for joining us again as a sponsor for our Energy & Sustainability Track. 

VentureCat 2023 was made possible thanks to the 75+ volunteer pitch coaches, track advisors, and judges. You can learn more about all of the teams, track advisors, and judges in our online program here.

Semifinals were held in a closed door format at the Kellogg Global Hub on the morning of May 31. Each track was judged by selected experts in corresponding fields. The first place winner of each track received a prize of $9,000 and the second place winner in each track received $6,000.

First and Second Place Winners from the Track Semifinals

Business Products and Services Track

First Place: Sorrek uncovers duplicates and bad data in CRM datasets through URL redirects and a source-of-truth database.

Graduate team led by Ariel Lavi, Pritzker '25.

Second Place: SoulStamps is a digital identity platform allowing people to effortlessly prove their identity, prevent fraud, and create trust using our blockchain-backed mobile app.  

Undergraduate team led by James Carlin, Weinberg '25.

Consumer Products and Services Track

First Place: Cue the Curves is a social shopping app for plus-size fashion.

Undergraduate team led by Charlotte Oxnam, McCormick '23.

Second Place: The Neuron is a media company that helps professionals get smarter about artificial intelligence.

Undergraduate team led by Noah Edelman, Weinberg '25.

Energy and Sustainability Track

First Place: Borrough is a marketplace that enables building residents to rent household items in a simple, convenient, and secure way. 

Graduate team comprised of Elliot Hall, Kellogg '23; Rahul Srivathsa, Kellogg '24; Hassan Nasri, Kellogg ’23.

Second Place: Vaulterra is a carbon offset project developer dedicated to the removal of atmospheric CO2 through Enhanced Rock Weathering techniques in agriculture.

Graduate team comprised of Patrick Giavelli, McCormick '24; Elliott Woodward, McCormick '23; Aino Alkio, McCormick '24; Ensar Biscevic, Weinberg '24.

Life Sciences & Medical Innovation Track

First Place: ​​BMImmune is a cancer therapeutics biotech company that has developed a novel anti-A-FABP humanized monoclonal antibody targeting lipid metabolism pathways to treat triple-negative breast cancer.

Graduate team led by Prashanth Somu, Kellogg '23.

Second Place: Nspire's cutting-edge medical device utilizes the unique newborn anatomy to enhance oxygen delivery and lower costs in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs).

Graduate team led by David Kohan-Ghadosh, Pritzker '23.

Social Impact Track

First Place: Zeestr is a fundraising and events platform for nonprofits with $2 - 10 million in annual donations, that drives actionable marketing insights for improved donor retention.

Graduate team comprised of Lauren Biegler, Kellogg '23, Tayo Dosunmu, Kellogg '23; Alexis Smith, Kellogg '23.

Second Place: TegoTech is revolutionizing safety and accessibility with our cutting-edge magnetic wall outlet technology: protecting children from electrocution and enabling effortless use for those with physical limitations.

Graduate team led by Chirag Goel, Feinberg '25.

The first place winners in each track - plus The Neuron, the Wildcard Winner - moved on to pitch in a closed session with our impressive panel of finalist judges, who kindly donated their time and expertise to today’s events. This year, we welcomed Steve Farsht, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, Corazon Capital; Kristin McDonnell, Managing Partner & Founder, Menlo Group; Jai Shekhawat, Advisory Board Member, Madison Dearborn Partners; Gale Wilkinson, Managing Partner, Vitalize Venture Group; Dennis Yang, Co-founder & Chairman, Modal. Then, the six finalist teams prepped to pitch live to an in-person audience!

The VentureCat Public Showcase was hosted by Mike Raab, Executive Director of The Garage at Northwestern, and Hayes Ferguson, Director of the Farley Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Following the showcase, we asked the audience to submit their live vote for their favorite pitch of the night. Hundreds of text votes were tallied for the Audience Favorite Prize of $2,000 which ultimately went to The Neuron!

Third place, and an additional $25,000 was awarded to: BMImmune! 

Second place, and $50,000, went to: Zeestr

First place, and the grand prize of $150,000 was awarded to: Cue the Curves!

“VentureCat was such an amazing experience,” said Charlotte Oxnam, founder and CEO of Cue the Curves. "It’s so great to get to work with other founders, to be able to support one another and get that recognition in front of potential investors and users, and be honored for the work we've done while being full-time students. It's definitely a lot of work, and it feels really rewarding to go through the program.”

Congratulations to ALL of the VentureCat participants – finalists, semifinalists, and winners. We can’t wait to see what you do next!

About the Author