MBA Ventures: More Than $1.75M In Prize Money Awarded At 2 Major Competitions

Alnair Therapeutics wins $585,000 at the 27th Annual Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge on June 1. Photo by Anne Ryan

From Chicago: Alnair Therapeutics, a startup developing a platform technology to improve the delivery of drugs to difficult-to-treat cancers, has won first place in the 27th Annual Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge.

Alnair was awarded $585,000 in investment, including the $205,000 Rattan L. Khosa First-Place Prize, at the NVC, the signature venture competition for MBA students at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

The judges awarded $1.4 million in investment to the 10 teams competing in NVC finals Thursday. The event was held in person at Chicago Booth’s Harper Center and included Booth students, members of the public, mentors, advisors, faculty, staff, and investors.

Taking second place, with a total of $280,000 in investment, was reOrbital, a company working to create fiber optic core processed in space in a microgravity environment. Third place, and $315,000 went to EverLeather, a leather restoration company targeting luxury leather items such as handbags, shoes, accessories, and jackets.

“We were incredibly impressed with the range of teams we saw this year,” said Steven Kaplan, Neubauer Family Distinguished Service Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and Kessenich E.P. Faculty Director of the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. “It was another year during which the teams made amazing progress, and all the teams have bright futures ahead of them. We know they will do great things for the world.”

See Poets&Quants’ coverage of the Most Successful MBA Startups and Most Disruptive MBA Startups

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Cue the Curves wins VentureCat, Northwestern University’s school-wide pitch competition

From Evanston, Illinois: Cue the Curves, a social shopping app for plus-size fashion, is the winning team at VentureCat, Northwestern University’s annual student startup competition powered by the Levy Institute for Entrepreneurial Practice and co-sponsored by Lanny and Sharon Martin. Twenty-five semifinalist teams competed for more than $325,000 in non-dilutive prize money on May 31, with Cue the Curves taking home a total of $160,000.

“VentureCat was such an amazing experience,” said Charlotte Oxnam, founder and CEO of Cue the Curves and a graduating senior in the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science. “It’s so great to get to work with other founders, to be able to support one another and get that recognition in front of potential investors and users, and be honored for the work we’ve done while being full-time students. It’s definitely a lot of work, and it feels really rewarding to go through the program.”

VentureCat hosted 30 distinguished venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and industry experts from across the country as judges to evaluate startups from five industry tracks: Business Products and Services, Consumer Products and Services, Energy and Sustainability, Life Sciences and Medical Innovations, and Social Impact. The top team from each track in the semifinals plus one wildcard team advanced to take the stage at the Public Showcase, where they pitched one more time to an audience of hundreds of students, alums, and investors. The showcase was held at the White Auditorium in the Kellogg School of Management Global Hub on Northwestern’s Evanston campus, and also livestreamed online.

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Mesa School founders Varun Limaye and Ankit Agarwal

Elevation Capital, others bet $4M on Mesa School Of Business

From Karnataka, India: Mesa School of Business, a business school focused on creating startup leaders, has raised Rs 34 crore ($4 million) in a funding round led by venture capital and growth-equity investment firm Elevation Capital.

The fundraise also saw participation from angel investors including Kunal Shah and Vidit Aatrey, the founders of fintech player Cred and social commerce platform Meesho, respectively, among others.

The business school plans to use the fresh funds for building a cutting-edge, hands-on and application-based curriculum, designed and delivered in partnership with startup leaders and potential future employers for a founding cohort of just 60 hand-picked students, it said in a statement.

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