Gearflow Wins VentureCat, Northwestern's Pitch Competition

·4 min read

Startups Battle for $300,000 Non-Dilutive Prize Money at First-Ever Virtual Event

EVANSTON, Ill., May 21, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- From a field of more than 50 startups that applied, Gearflow was the winning team for their construction marketplace on May 20, 2020 at VentureCat, Northwestern's annual student startup competition powered by The Levy Institute and co-sponsored by Lanny and Sharon Martin. The public event featured the finalist pitches and a special keynote presentation from Sam Shank (Kellogg alum, '04), CEO of HotelTonight and head of hotels at Airbnb.

VentureCat hosted 40 distinguished experts as judges to award startups from five industry tracks: Business Products and Services, Consumer Products and Services, Energy and Sustainability, Life Sciences and Medical Innovations, and Social Impact and Nonprofits. The winning startups that presented from the respective tracks are:

  • Business Products and Services: Gearflow, Ben Preston, Kellogg School, '21

  • Consumer Products and Services: Qade, Spencer Levitt, Weinberg, '22 and Austin Pager, School of Education and Social Policy, '21

  • Energy and Sustainability: Blip, Dennis Kontorovich, Kellogg School, '20, Sophia Wennstedt, Kellogg and McCormick, '21, Chance Cobb, School of Communications, '20 and Thibaut Feremans, Kellogg School, '21.

  • Life Sciences and Medical Innovations: B-Vitals, Hanna Colin, Kellogg School, '20

  • Social Impact and Nonprofits: Tilt, Sinthujua Nagalingam, Kellogg School, '20

  • Wild Card: WareIQ, Hardik Tiwari, Kellogg School, '21

"Each year, I'm proud to see the caliber of startup businesses that are developed through VentureCat's mentoring and coaching. This year was unique as the students needed to entirely prepare and pitch virtually. It showed that the best startup leaders were ready to rise to the challenge to showcase their early-stage businesses," said Larry Levy, managing partner, Levy Family Partners, and longtime trustee at Northwestern University.

VentureCat is a university-wide competition and open to students at all levels of study. The competition is a collaborative effort between The Kellogg School of Management, The Garage, the Donald Pritzker Entrepreneurship Law Center and The Farley Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

"We're honored and thrilled to win Northwestern's VentureCat pitch competition. We were among a competitive crowd with startups that could make an impact in their respective industries and we're thankful for the sponsors who make this prize money possible," said Preston, co-founder of Gearflow and student at Kellogg School of Management. "Next, we plan to use this prize money to add to the team, which will help us tremendously."

A complete list of the student semifinalist teams is available here.

More about VentureCat:
VentureCat is powered by The Levy Institute and co-sponsored by Lanny and Sharon Martin.

Lanny Martin is a longtime trustee of Northwestern University and earned his bachelors in 1968 and his JD from Northwestern University School of Law in 1973. Larry Levy is also a longtime trustee and received his MBA from Kellogg School in 1968.

VentureCat differs from other pitch competitions by offering non-dilutive capital prize money and featuring five distinct tracks: Business Products and Services, Consumer Products and Services, Energy and Sustainability, Life Sciences and Medical Innovations, and Social Impact and Nonprofits. Startups in these tracks compete in private semifinals with a panel of industry experts as judges, and then the top team in each track moves on to compete in finals with a panel of prominent investors and entrepreneurs. Prior to the competition, the teams completed a four-week pitch prep program that provided mentorship, graphic design, pitch coaching and more.

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SOURCE Northwestern University