VentureCat 2024: The Results!

May 23, 2024
Rudy Arora accepting the Grand Prize Check

Northwestern’s Annual Student Startup Competition returns to campus for its 11th year.

VentureCat 2024 Public Showcase was held on Wednesday, May 22 and featured the best and brightest Northwestern student-founded ventures competing across five industry tracks for a non-dilutive prize pool of more than $175,000! Congratulations to Rudy Arora, Founder and CEO at Turbolearn AI, for winning the Finals Grand Prize - ultimately taking home $100,000 at the Public Showcase. Turbolearn AI enables users to leave lectures with an AI generated study guide.

Joining Turbolearn AI on the winners podium were the co-founders of SteadyScrib, Izzy Mokotoff and Alexis Chan, who took home Second Place and the Audience Favorite Prize - bringing their total winnings to $51,000. SteadyScrib invented the first writing utensil specifically designed for those with Parkinson’s, mitigating the effects of common writing-inhibitive symptoms associated with the disease.

Pictured: Turbolearn AI, SteadyScrib and Olympus posing with their checks.

Scott Tsangeos, Founder and CEO at Olympus, ultimately took home Third Place and $25,000 after qualifying for the finals with Wildcard designation. Olympus is a digital platform for coaches and athletes to track, analyze, and manage their strength-based workouts.

This year, we welcomed past grand-prize winners, Ben Preston '21 and Charlotte Oxnam '23, back to the VentureCat stage as the event emcees! 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 2024 Public Showcase Livestream recording below.

Prior to the event, each of the 25 Semifinalists participated in a four‐week Pitch Prep Program in the weeks leading up to the competition. This includes one‐on‐one pitch coaching and industry expert consultations, as well as professional graphic design services for each team to create a pitch deck.

“The 25 semifinalists selected to participate in VentureCat each year represent the culmination of the many layers of entrepreneurial resources, courses and programming available to students from across Northwestern,” said Mike Raab, Executive Director of The Garage, Northwestern’s student startup incubator. “Unlike traditional business plan competitions, VentureCat selects and supports Northwestern student founders that have moved beyond the initial idea phase and onto developing a product or service that meets a validated market need.”
Pictured: Finalist John Ferrara of Juxta pitching at VentureCat 2024.

This year, VentureCat distributed more than $175,000 in non-dilutive funding to competing student ventures thanks to sponsorship and donor contributions. Thank you to the Levy Institute for Entrepreneurial Practice, the Bernstein Family, and Alicia McGinnis for their generous gifts this year. We’d also like to thank Exelon for joining us again as a sponsor for our Energy & Sustainability Track, and to Microsoft for Startups - Founders Hub for joining us as a general sponsor.

Semifinals were held in a closed door format at the Kellogg Global Hub on the morning of May 22. Each track was judged by selected experts in corresponding fields. The first place winner in each of the five tracks advanced to the finals, in addition to one Wildcard winner chosen from the second place track winners. Now, to the track results!

First and Second Place Winners from the Track Semifinals

Business Products and Services Track

Consumer Products and Services Track

Energy & Sustainability Track

Life Sciences & Medical Innovation Track

Social Impact Track

The first place winners in each track - plus Olympus, 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 Rob Chesney, General Partner at Chicago Ventures; Ravin Gandhi, CEO and Founder at GMM Nonstick Coatings; Allison Lechnir, Partner at Hyde Park Venture Partners; Anna Lisa Somera, CEO at Rhaeos; and Tim Stojka, CEO at Nexus3 Capital.

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


VentureCat 2024 was made possible thanks to the 75+ volunteer pitch coaches, track advisors, and judges. You can learn more about all of the participating teams, track advisors, and judges in our online program here.

If you would like to contribute to this important program, your gift will support VentureCat resources and awards for future participants. Join us in supporting tomorrow's leaders driving forward groundbreaking solutions and fostering a culture of innovation at Northwestern.

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