Six CU Boulder teams will vie for up to $200,000 in funding at the 11th annual New Venture Challenge (NVC), CU Boulder’s premier entrepreneurial startup competition, on April 3 at the Boulder Theater.
Nearly 120 ventures took part in this year’s competition, which kicked off in September. In the months since then, faculty and students from every corner of campus have explored their ideas, technologies and passions with an eye on reaching the Championships—and maybe even beyond.
"The more we learned about NVC, the more we wanted to participate. From the workshops built in throughout the year, to how friendly and enthusiastic the community was, it was a no-brainer to apply," said Humsini Acharya, an engineering plus senior and co-founder of Hardware Track finalist team Stride Tech. "It's been such a great opportunity to hone the business, marketing and financial side of the equation that we, as engineers, were previously scared of."
Five of the finalists advanced through a semi-final round before winning in their respective track finals, which were held in Creative Industries, Research & Development (R&D), Information Technology (IT), Hardware and General categories. The sixth team advanced to the finals as a wildcard selection.
The New Venture Challenge 11 finalists are:
- Bright Wearables (Creative Industries Track Finalist) – micro-chip embedded fashion accessories that allow contact information to be passed to smartphones with just a tap of the phone
- KartWheel (General Track Finalist) – a specialized transportation company established to transport students with disabilities and injuries from their homes to specific buildings on campus
- Stride Tech (Hardware Track Finalist) – advocates for safer senior care with Smart Step, a universally attachable walker accessory that detects and corrects dangerous walker use habits and monitors walking to generate actionable insights for a physician
- Nimb.ly (IT Track Finalist) – software platform that helps catering companies keep their events efficiently staffed
- TissueForm (R&D Track Finalist) – helps patients suffering from tissue disease, damage or aging through simple, low-cost and long-lasting dermal filler technology
- Button Huggie (Wildcard, R&D Track runner-up) – a precision-engineered medical device designed to simplify care for a child's gastrostomy button and reduce gastrostomy-related complications
Teams will have five minutes to pitch their business ideas and field answers to questions from a panel of judges. This year’s panel is comprised of returning NVC 10 judges Jason Mendelson, co-founder and managing director of the Foundry Group; Abby Barlow, partner and director of Investment Research at Crestone Capital, LLC; and Anthony Shontz, managing director of Private Equity at Partners Group (USA), Inc. Mike Wohl, Chief Investment Officer of CEAS Investments I, LLC rounds out the panel as the fourth judge.
The audience will also get to try their hand at judging by voting on a special round of lightning pitches from four ventures, with the winner taking home a $1,000 prize. The event will be emceed by Brad Bernthal, Associate Professor of Law and Founder/Director of the Silicon Flatirons Center's Entrepreneurship Initiative, and will feature cameos from Brad Feld, managing director of the Foundry Group and co-founder of Techstars, and Dan Caruso, CEO of Zayo Group. Feld and Caruso also donated the $200,000 prize.