Overview of VentureCat

VentureCat is a two day 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 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 25 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 25 teams compete in 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.

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