By Mallory Richardson
From March 16-18, CU Boulder’s New Venture Challenge (NVC) kicked off its 13th season by awarding $30,000 to 15 startup teams across three Specialty Prize Night competitions.
As the university’s premier, cross-campus entrepreneurial program and competition, NVC gives aspiring student, faculty and staff entrepreneurs the chance to build a startup through outstanding support and mentorship. NVC connects the CU Boulder campus with the Boulder community to develop and fund innovative ideas. Participants attend year-round events, network and collaborate with mentors to refine their ideas and form startup teams to pitch for funding (more than to $100,000!) at the NVC Championships.
More than 60 out of 110 registered NVC teams chose to participate in one of the three competitions:
- Impact Prize—Social Impact, Sustainability, Climate Change, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: The teams that competed in this category that creates real impact in the world by (1) addressing a pressing social challenge that affects significant, positive change, (2) promoting solutions to climate change and sustainability, or (3) encouraging diversity, equity and inclusion.
- NVC Newcomer Prize: The teams that competed in this category were new to competing in NVC.
- Female Founder Prize: The teams that competed in this category had at least one founder or co-founder who identifies as female.
With inspiring and energetic programming, the Specialty Prize Nights gave attendees a preview of the startups who will be competing in the official NVC competition. Teams submitted a 5-minute video pitch and executive summary for judges to review. The top 5 teams in each Specialty Prize category were invited to present their video pitch live and engage in a live 5-minute Q&A with the judges.
The winners represented all corners of campus, ranging from the Leeds School of Business to the College of Music, to freshmen, graduate students, PhDs and faculty.
Impact Prize Night (March 16):
- RockyTech ($5,000)—developing a new technology to solve the current plastic waste problem by converting waste into a new material (WeCANTM) that can be used to create high-value products such as auto parts.
- HUG Solutions ($3,000)—mRNA vaccine cold chain transportation for rural communities
- Social Dynamic ($1,000)—empowers startups and developing brands to accelerate faster than their competitors, by providing access to specialist teams with ready-made agile frameworks
- Kegstand ($500)—40 percent lighter kegs with IoT tracking
- PurBurn ($500)—developing The VersaCook stove, an improved gasifying cookstove for the developing world that reduces indoor air pollution, increases efficiency, provides air flow adjustment, and thermo-electric power generation
NVC Newcomer Prize Night (March 17):
- Loopsketch ($5,000)—a remote, real-time collaborative platform for “sketching” musical ideas with friends using user-recorded loops, pre-existing loops, and AI created loops
- LGBT50 ($3,000)—agency that manages LGBTQ+ influencers on TikTok and Instagram, leveraging network to promote brands on those platforms
- Chinlax ($1,000)—a smart violin chin rest that tells helps violinists practice form and develop healthy practice habits
- Topic Insights ($500)—a publishing and media startup with the mission of inspiring the next generation of leaders to use the power of business as a force for good through insights, stories, and research
- Whizard ($500)—creates personalized problem sets that allow students to connect mathematical concepts with their experiences, hobbies, and interests
Female Founder Prize Night (March 18):
- Chembotix ($5,000)—developing a robotic automation platform to dramatically speed up chemistry research and development
- Vitro3D ($3,000)—revolutionizing the breast cancer drug discovery process by providing pharmaceutical companies with 3D printed bioactive petri dishes that mimic breast cancer tissue for more accurate screening of drugs, drastically reducing the cost and time of research and development
- ThinkingHuts ($1,000)— building 3D printed schools in developing countries
- Toobtek ($500)—creating a fiberoptic intubation training device that will assist medical professionals across the United States in getting trained to execute intubation procedures
- Scoutcruit ($500)—a social media platform and app catered that makes the recruiting process easier for both college coaches and high school athletes
“We’re so excited for this NVC season’s crop of startup teams,” said Chris Gustavson, Innovation & Entrepreneurship Director. “Even though NVC went completely virtual this year due to the pandemic, these teams are incredible…they really showed up, did the work and made the most of the experience.”