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This year, the NVC will be celebrating it’s 26th year of launching incredible graduate businesses including Grubhub, Braintree/Venmo, Simple Mills, Tovala, and Foxtrot.

To encourage the founding and growth of high-potential new ventures.

"My impression about NVC, if I had to summarize it, it’s like having Einstein as your physics tutor. You have literally the best of the best in terms of entrepreneurship or venture capital in every other aspect really guiding you and basically holding your hand throughout this three-month process. There is nothing better than this if you want to be an entrepreneur.” -Sebastian Rivas, MBA ’21, Founder and CEO, Andes STR, 2021 NVC Winner

Most other business schools and graduate entrepreneurship programs host a single day or weekend business plan competition as their New Venture Challenge. The NVC at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business is different. It is not just a competition. Instead, it is a year-long business launch program that is recognized as the #1 university accelerator program in the nation. It features three distinct phases:

  • Phase I: In the Fall quarter, attend events hosted by the Polsky Center to learn about entrepreneurship, meet teammates, and generate ideas. Eligible teams must develop their business feasibility summary and apply by Thursday, January 27, 2022.
  • Phase II: Selected teams will enroll in a Spring quarter class where they will develop a full business plan, practice pitching, and receive mentorship from faculty, coaches, and experienced investors.
  • Phase III: The program will culminate at the end of the Spring quarter where top finalist teams will be invited to compete for $1 million in cash and in-kind prizes and pitch in front of an esteemed panel of investors and judges at the NVC Finals on June 2, 2022.


  • Entries must be the original work of the entrants and may be made by a single-student or by multiple-student teams. Each team or student may submit as many entries as they wish. However, it is unlikely that multiple entries from the same team will be successful given that the plans are judged partly on the ability of the team to execute the plan.
  • The new venture idea should be original and have commercial promise. The entry may be developed in conjunction with a course or research project, and students may enlist faculty aid.
  • Teams that have secured arrangements for capital from any source must disclose the amounts and sources in their Phase I executive summaries. Entries that have received more than $500,000 of outside investment are ineligible to compete (excludes government grants).
  • There is no minimum or maximum team size. However, each team is required to have at least one currently registered student from the University of Chicago as an active member of the team.* Teams are highly encouraged to incorporate at least one student from Chicago Booth. To qualify, the UChicago student must be registered as of the Phase I deadline.
  • Teams whose founding members are unaffiliated with the University of Chicago are only eligible to apply to the NVC if they have a current UChicago student as an integral part of their team, with a 10% equity stake in the venture.
  • Teams comprised of undergraduate students are eligible if the team has previously completed the College NVC, or the team includes at least one current graduate student. A team of all undergraduate students will not be eligible for the NVC if neither of these criteria has been met.
  • Teams may have members who are not affiliated with the University of Chicago. The Polsky Center encourages teams to identify individuals, within and external to the University, who may contribute the additional expertise and experience to help the team succeed.
  • Upon acceptance into the NVC, at least one team member must enroll in the NVC course at Chicago Booth in the spring quarter.

Teams interested in applying to the NVC must submit a completed application by the deadline. The deadline for the 2022 NVC is Thursday, January 27, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. CT (no exceptions).

The link to the 2022 NVC application will be available shortly. In the meantime, please reach out to Dr. Amber Bradley Williams for more information about how to apply to the NVC.

"If you’re even toying with the idea of being an entrepreneur, do an NVC. Do it twice, actually, if you can. If there’s one regret I have it’s that I didn’t do NVC with another team year one. Because if I could have two servings of this, I would. It’s an impressive thing." -Sebastian Rivas, MBA ’21, Founder and CEO, Andes STR, 2021 NVC Winner


Students must develop a 8-page feasibility summary outlining a business or idea.


  • 10-12 pt legible font
  • 1 inch margins
  • 8-page maximum (judges are not expected to read any appendices)

Common elements of a feasibility summary include:

  • Value proposition
  • Customer/beneficiary segments
  • Competition
  • Intellectual property
  • Customer/beneficiary engagement
  • Revenue model
  • Operations
  • Management team
  • Progress to date
  • Business risks
  • Business analogue

PITCH VIDEO: Students must create a 2-minute elevator pitch video articulating the following. (Upload the video to YouTube — you can leave it unlisted – and submit the URL):

  • What problem are you solving?
  • What is your solution?
  • Who is most interested in having this problem solved?
  • What evidence do you have that they will find value in your solution?
  • Why are you the team to solve this problem?
  • How will the New Venture Challenge enable you to reach your goals?

APPLICATION QUESTIONS: Students must speak to the following topics about their business in short-answer responses. This section will serve as the Executive Summary to a team’s application:

  • Business description (50 words or less, please note that this info may be made available on marketing materials)
  • Problem this business is addressing (125 word limit)
  • Customer/beneficiary segment this business addresses (125 word limit)
  • Potential market size (125 word limit)
  • Competing or substitutable products (125 word limit)
  • Why is this the right team to launch this business? (125 word limit)
  • Key milestones/current status of business and/or estimated time to market (125 word limit)

TEAM RESUMES: Resumes of each team members should be included in the application.

As a condition to receive the prize money, each winning team must agree to provide the Polsky Center with equity in the company (that was the subject of its application). The Polsky Center offers a non-negotiable version of the Simple Agreement for Future Equity (SAFE) for companies that receive prize money.

SAFE is a standard convertible equity investment instrument first introduced and used by Y Combinator for seed funding. Fundamentally (and ideally), it is an investment that converts to preferred stock at the occurrence of the next round of funding and at the same terms as that round of funding. It is not traditional preferred stock or a convertible note. It is intended to replace convertible notes by keeping a similar conversion mechanism but removing many of the problems inherent in debt instruments (e.g., interest, maturity dates, risk of insolvency, and subordination). Importantly, SAFE is unlike preferred stock in that it does not require setting a valuation of the company — that determination is postponed until the later “occurrence of a particular event”.

The Judges Panel and/or the Polsky Center reserve the right to disqualify any entry that does not meet all the eligibility requirements or that violates any rules or regulations of the New Venture Challenge.

Judging will be based on the commercial potential of the business, innovative nature and technical feasibility of the idea, the credibility of the projections and assumptions, and the ability of the team to make it happen. While the quality of management and advisors is important, it will be less of a factor in Phase I and more a factor as the team progresses to Phase III. All decisions of the judging panel will be final.


Cash prizes, along with any additional goods and services, will be divided among the top teams as deemed by the judging panel. The allocation of the prize money will be determined by the finals judges, based on relative merit and need. Each NVC finalist must review the terms of the SAFE agreement provided by the Polsky Center. As a condition to receive an award, each winning team must agree to provide the Polsky Center with equity in the company (that was the subject of its application) in an amount equal to its respective award if the company receives funding or otherwise enters into a business combination transaction wherein the surviving entity receives financing or equity in another entity.


The University of Chicago, the principal sponsor and organizer, the co-organizers and co-sponsors of the Edward L. Kaplan New Venture Challenge have taken all reasonable measures to assure that all contestants retain their rights to the Business Plan and Intellectual Property. The co-sponsors and judges of the program include non-University of Chicago organizations that are interested in fostering the entrepreneurial process. Some of these organizations are in the business of working with and investing in the ideas of entrepreneurs. However, co-sponsoring organizations will only have access to the Plans with a team’s prior approval and shall make no claim to any of the property or rights.

The protection of these rights is the ultimate responsibility of each contestant. Contestants are urged to mark as CONFIDENTIAL any portion of their entries, which they consider to be proprietary, or of a sensitive nature. Contestants should be careful about disclosing any “patentable” concepts in their entries because, although in the United States a patent application can be filed up to one year after the first public disclosure of an invention, in many foreign countries a patent application must be filed before any public disclosure is made.

The University of Chicago, each of the co-sponsors, judges, mentors, co-organizers (the “Competition Officials”) and its directors, officers, partners, employees, consultants and agents (collectively “Organizer Representatives”) are volunteers and are under no obligation to render any advice or service to any Contestant.  The views expressed by the judges, co-sponsors, co-organizers, and the Organizer Representatives are their own and not those of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business or any person or entity. Entrepreneurs will be asked to acknowledge and agree to this in the application process.

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