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Overview of VentureCat

VentureCat is an event and showcase celebrating Northwestern’s most promising student-founded startups. The event culminates with a pitch competition on May 23, 2018, in which over $100,000 in prize money will be distributed to student ventures. VentureCat is a collaborative event at Northwestern, including efforts through The Farley Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, The Kellogg School of Management, the Donald Pritzker Entrepreneurship Law Center and The Garage.

VentureCat is an evolution of the Northwestern University Venture Challenge (NUVC), which was originally introduced in 2007. From inception, NUVC has distinguished itself from other pitch competitions around the globe by organizing competitors in industry-specific tracks, which leverages the rich expertise of distinct schools from across the university in both graduate and undergraduate programs, and awarding top teams with non-dilutive capital.

VentureCat is an experience for Northwestern’s 30 most promising student-founded startups teams to network and pitch their ventures to an esteemed panel of judges and the broader community. Semifinal teams participate in the Four Week Semifinalist Prep Program. The program includes: pitch coaching, advice from industry experts, and professional graphic design support.

The 30 teams compete in six industry tracks. The 1st place winner of each track takes the main stage to compete for the grand prize at the Finals in front of an audience of hundreds of students, alums, and investors.


VentureCat 2018 Semifinalists


CoCo Health: CoCo Health provides on-site mental wellness support for employers and employees by bringing counselors and providers to the workplace.

Facilikey: Facilikey seeks to facilitate, track and organize mobile-based rent payments from tenants to landlords to increase efficiency and ease for both parties.

Hilltop Health: Business solutions for vets to create tech enabled, world class pet care.

Queralyze, LLC: Queralyze is a cost effective teaching enhancement tool focusing on critical thinking and writing.

RideLink: RideLink provides amusement park operators with a predictive machine learning platform to make smarter maintenance decisions and reduce annual unplanned maintenance costs.



Cariset: Because the key to feeling like you’re on top of the world starts with your bag.

Commit: Commit is a platform that creates and guarantees demand for events and trips to make sure they’re full… or don’t happen.

LOUD Enterprises LLC: LOUD’s mission is to use artwork and apparel to inspire, challenge and enable others to pursue their passions and to live out their dreams.

SkimmyLabs: Skimmy is a wearable device that alerts credit card holders to detected skimmers.

Unruled.: Unruled. is empowering visual thinkers through environmentally responsible design.



Instago: Instago is a community centric carpooling app that matches people going in the same direction at similar times and thereby allows them to split the cost of the ride while reducing emissions.

NUMiX Materials: NUMiX Materials manufactures and supplies Northwestern University-patented materials to remove heavy metals from aqueous streams at ten times the efficiency of competing materials on a per-volume basis.

PedalCell: PedalCell creates novel bike-powered phone chargers for the bike share industry.

Power2Save: Power2Save helps utilities meet state-mandated energy savings targets by incentivizing consumers to reduce their individual electricity demands through micro-investing and cloud-based smart appliance automation.



2nd Kitchen: 2ndKitchen is a platform that enables bars without kitchens to serve food seamlessly using a network of popular restaurants around them.

BrewBike: BrewBike provides coffee to the Northwestern community in the most convenient way, every day.

HotPlate: HotPlate is an app that enables diners to discover the best dishes at restaurants through individual dish ratings and reviews.

Jora Beverage Company: Mindful mixers, conscious crafters, and innovative partiers who refuse to settle for alcoholic beverages that continuously fail to acknowledge our lifestyles.

reBLEND: reBLEND sources misshapen produce and crafts delicious smoothies that help customers better win their day.



BackWave Technologies: BackWave is developing a noninvasive device that measures cardiac output to detect and prevent acute exacerbations of heart failure.

Jabiru Medical: Jabiru provides real-time biometric feedback for new moms to facilitate expedited labor and avoid undesirable, costly surgical interventions.

Jetter: Jetter is an easy-to-use, child-friendly device that improves the pediatric injection experience.

NanoSlurry: NanoSlurry is an innovative pre-clinical nanomaterial product which can dramatically improve healing post surgery for cartilage repair patient.

Rheos: Rheos has developed a noninvasive, wearable biosensor capable of diagnosing ventricular shunt malfunction.



BOSSY: BOSSY is a platform that celebrates female business owners and helps them grow their businesses by motivating female consumers to buy women-owned.

Brave Initiatives: Brave Initiatives is on a mission to empower high school girls to be brave leaders of change in their communities using technology.

LineShift: LineShift provides solutions and tools that enable the manufacturing workforce to analyze and deploy their skills as AI and automation disrupt the industry.

Poppy: Poppy is the first online support system designed to help communities provide long-term and meaningful help for the grievers in their lives.

Sidekick Education: Students partner with organizations to solve real problems using core class content. Sidekick partners with teachers to help them pull it off.


VentureCat 2018 Finals Judges


Past Winners


  • IFM (Intelligent Flying Machines) – Uses robotics, computer vison and machine learning to automate indoor data capture, with a focus on warehouse inventory tracking.
  • Tiltas – a technology platform that connects the formerly incarcerated to mentors to help in the transition out of prison
  • Quickpulse – a WeChat-integrated tool that allows Chinese millennials to give feedback to employers in order to improve retention


  • The Graide Network – connecting middle and high school teachers with qualified teaching assistants to grade and provide feedback on student work
  • Surgical Innovation Associates – an early stage medical and surgical device company focused on soft tissue repair
  • Eat Pakd (Wise Apple) – delivering customized, healthy lunches to your door


  • Opticent Health – positively impacting healthcare monitoring and delivery through the commercialization of next generation patient-specific technologies that address unmet needs for diseases across a range of medical practices


  • Page Vault – providing software and services that deliver an accurate PDF of the webpage that is admissible in the court of law
  • Innoblative – a medical device company whose mission is to develop specialized electrosurgical devices that innovate multiple surgical procedures