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Past Winners & Semifinalists

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

The competition was renamed to VentureCat and launched its Pitch Prep Program in 2017. Each year we welcome an impressive group of student founders as semifinalists and look forward to following all of their successes. Past participants have raised more than $1 billion in venture capital funding, been accepted into prestigious accelerator programs, successfully exited companies and created jobs through their business growth. 


Read the 2024 Results + Recap


  • Grand Prize:  Turbolearn AI - Rudy Arora, Weinberg ’27
    Turbolearn AILeave your next lecture with an AI generated study guide.
  • 2nd Place:  SteadyScrib - Izzy Mokotoff Medill '24 and Alexis Chan, McCormick '24
    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.
  • 3rd Place: Olympus - Scott Tsangeos, Kellogg + McCormick '24
    Olympus is a digital platform for coaches and athletes to track, analyze, and manage their strength-based workouts.

2024 semifinalists and track winners


Read the 2023 Results + Recap


  • Grand Prize:  Cue the Curves - Charlotte Oxnam, McCormick ’23
    Cue the Curves is a social shopping app for plus-size fashion.
  • 2nd Place:  Zeestr - Lauren Biegler, Kellogg ’23, Tayo Dosunmu, Kellogg ’23; Alexis Smith, Kellogg ’23
     Zeestr is a fundraising and events platform for nonprofits with $2 – 10 million in annual donations, that drives actionable marketing insights for improved donor retention
  • 3rd Place: BMImmune - Prashanth Somu, Kellogg ’23
    BMImmune is a cancer therapeutics biotech company that has developed a novel anti-A-FABP humanized monoclonal antibody targeting lipid metabolism pathways to treat triple-negative breast cancer.

2023 semifinalists and track winners


Read the 2022 Results + Recap


  • Grand Prize:  InfernoGuard  - Kevin Kaspar, McCormick ’24
    InfernoGuard provides prompt wildfire detection and notification to large-scale landowners.
  • 2nd Place:  Beni - Sarah Pinner, Kellogg (MMM) ’23; Kate Sanner, Kellogg ’22; Sarah Leonard, Kellogg ’23; Sarah Rogers, Kellogg ’23; Hunter Zhang, Northwestern ’23; Jacqueline Hong, Kellogg ’22; Danielle Ma, Kellogg ’22; Ashkaan Khatakhotan, Kellogg ’22; Catherine Sullivan, Kellogg ’23
    The Beni browser extension finds the best secondhand swaps while you shop your favorite brands. It’s like Honey meets Expedia for recommerce.
  • 3rd Place: Zuri Fertility - Giuliana Zaccardelli, Feinberg/Kellogg ’22 Blair Matthews Pritzker ’22
    Zuri is a personal, digital fertility app empowering patients with the knowledge, confidence, and access needed to succeed in their fertility journey. 

2022 semifinalists and track winners


Read the 2021 Results + Recap


  • Grand Prize:  Solvento (formerly Por Adela) - Jaime Tabachnik, Kellogg ’22
    Solvento is the smart factoring solution for truckers that will help small and medium sized truckers grow in LATAM. (Watch Solvento's pitch)
  • 2nd Place: The Equal Opportunity Book Box - Jacob Jordan, SESP ’20 and SPS ’21 (founder); Stephanie Shin, Medill ’21; Anthony Cruz, McCormick ’22
    The Equal Opportunity Book Box is a subscription service for diverse children's books that donates one book to an underserved child for every book sold. (Watch EOBB's pitch)
  • 3rd Place: springrose - Nicole Cuervo, Kellogg and McCormick ’22 (founder); Natalie Coletta, Kellogg ’22; Courtney Weldon, Kellogg and McCormick ’21; Hans Rojas, Kellogg ’21
    springrose designs adaptive, attractive intimates for women with upper mobility and/or dexterity challenges (e.g., arthritis, stroke paralysis, nerve damage, shoulder injuries). 

2021 semifinalists and track winners


Read the 2020 Results + Recap


  • Grand Prize: Gearflow – Ben Preston, Kellogg ’21 and Mike Hostetler, Kellogg ’21
    Gearflow is the first marketplace for all things construction, providing easy access to reliable suppliers for all heavy equipment needs. (Watch Gearflow’s pitch)
  • 2nd Place: Qade – Spencer Levitt, Weinberg ’22 and Austin Pager, SESP ’22
    Qade is a platform that brings gamers together to easily keep track of video game wagers and statistics. The team has now pivoted to Buffd. (Watch Qade’s pitch)
  • 3rd Place: Tilt – Sinthuja Nagalingam, Kellogg ’20
    Tilt partners with high schools to scale their financial aid advising and help families plan for the costs of higher education. (Watch Tilt’s pitch)

2020 semifinalists and track winners


Read the 2019 Results + Recap Article


  • Grand Prize: PreSight – Simon Yin, Kellogg ’19
    PreSight is the first screening tool for retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) based on VEGF levels in the tears of premature infants (Watch PreSight’s pitch)
  • 2nd Place: Dindin – Brunna Seabra, Kellogg ’20
    Dindin is changing the access to essential financial services in Brazil by facilitating financial inclusion of the unbanked and underbanked population through its B2B2C solutions (Watch Dindin’s pitch)
  • 3rd Place: LimeLight – Phil O’Brien, Kellogg ’20
    LimeLight is advancing data to power the indoor agriculture revolution (Watch LimeLight’s pitch)

2019 semifinalists and track winners


Read the 2018 Results + Recap Article


  • Grand Prize: NUMiX Materials – Laurelle Banta, Pritzker ’17
    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
  • 2nd Place: BrewBike – Lucas Philips, SESP ’19
    BrewBike fuels college students with cold brew coffee
  • 3rd Place: Rhaeos – Amit Ayer, Kellogg ’19
    Rhaeos has developed a noninvasive, wearable biosensor capable of diagnosing ventricular shunt malfunction

2018 semifinalists and track winners


Read the 2017 Results + Recap Article


  • Grand Prize: IFM (Intelligent Flying Machines) – Marc Gyongyosi, McCormick ’17
    IFM uses robotics, computer vision and machine learning to automate indoor data capture, with a focus on warehouse inventory tracking
  • 2nd Place: Tiltas – Tiffany Smith, Kellogg ’17
    Tiltas is a technology platform that connects the formerly incarcerated to mentors to help in the transition out of prison
  • 3rd Place: Quickpulse – Jessica Tsai, Kellogg ’17
    Quickpulse is a WeChat-integrated tool that allows Chinese millennials to give feedback to employers in order to improve retention

2017 semifinalists and track winners



  • Grand Prize: The Graide Network – Blair Pircon, Kellogg ’16 and Amanda McCarthy, Kellogg ’16
    The Graide Network is connecting middle and high school teachers with qualified teaching assistants to grade and provide feedback on student work
  • 2nd Place: Surgical Innovation Associates – Alexei Mlodinow, Feinberg & Kellogg ’17; Todd Cruikshank, Kellogg ’17; Sega Moges, Kellogg ’16
    Surgical Innovation Associates is an early stage medical and surgical device company focused on soft tissue repair
  • 3rd Place: Wise Apple – Nate Cooper, Kellogg ’17 and Rebecca Sholiton, Kellogg ’16
    Wise Apple delivers customized, healthy lunches to your door

2016 semifinalists and track winners



  • Grand Prize: Opticent Health – Kieren Patel, Pritzker ’16
    Opticent Health is 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
  • 2nd Place: GTrans – Zhiyuan Sun, McCormick PhD ’18 and Adithya Mohanakrishnan, Kellogg ’16
    GTrans is developing a thermally responsive separator that will increase the safety of Li-ion batteries.
  • 3rd Place: MDAR Technologies – Jesse Chang, Pritzker & Kellogg ’16
    MDAR Technologies, Inc. has developed a next-generation 3D vision system using patent-pending technology and proprietary algorithms

2015 semifinalists and track winners



  • Grand Prize: Page Vault  – Jeffrey Eschbach, Kellogg ’14
    Page Vault provides software and services that deliver an accurate PDF of the webpage that is admissible in the court of law
  • 2nd Place: Innoblative – Tyler Wanke, Kellogg & McCormick ’15
    Innoblative provides next-generation, advanced energy surgical solutions that improve the way surgeons coagulate and ablate soft tissue to achieve better care for patients