Startup Challenge



The 2017 UIC Startup Challenge will take place on Monday, April 10, 2017!  Please join us at this exciting event to cheer on the teams as they pitch their startup ideas!

RSVP here:

For more information about our upcoming UIC Startup Challenge events & workshops, please visit the 2017 UIC Startup Challenge website.


11th Annual UIC Startup Challenge Winners

The 11th annual UIC Startup Challenge took place April 15th, 2016. We are excited to announce the winners of the  2016 UIC Startup Challenge!


Clean Slate Messenger is a digital platform which offers private, instant chat to help youth to control their digital trail through on-demand deletion and captivating letter-by-letter messaging. 

Graduate, College of Engineering (Rachel Harsley); Alumnus, College of Engineering (Daniel Ruiz)

UPDATE: Rachel and Clean Slate Messenger went on to compete in the RECESS Chicago Regional Pitch competition on Friday, April 22, and won the college track part of the competition!  As a result of her win, Rachel will be moving on to represent UIC and compete in the RECESS National Pitch competition in Los Angeles in June.  CONGRATULATIONS, Rachel!!

20791st Place



Beet Strong is a beet-infused nutrition bar that’s high protein, high fiber, and made with real fruits, nuts, and chocolate.  Ingredients are linked to improved cardiovascular function, athletic performance, and muscle building.

Graduate Student, College of Business Administration (Sofia Sanchez); Graduate Student, College of Applied Health Sciences (Austin Robinson)



FINALISTS ($500 for Each)

The Arch Fingerskate Corporation produces one of the world’s most creative, innovative, and interactive fingerskate platforms and strives to capitalize on a young, emerging fingerskating market.  

Undergraduate Students, College of Business Administration (Justin Ellis, Matt Gruhn, Alex Lombardi, Ryan Dowler, Sam Voss)

Clearmaze Technologies is a startup that helps community college students pick the right courses that transfer to a university using a simple 3 step process. 

Undergraduate Student, College of Engineering (Mohammed Mustafa Hoda)

NeXTSTEP Bank helps students submit one student loan application to receive multiple offers from different banks in order to select the best one to meet their needs.  

Undergraduate Student, College of Engineering (Ilham Kabir); Undergraduate Student, College of Business Administration (Jaime Manriquez)

sĕntēme uses the power of user-generated online content to provide in-depth automated summaries of people’s opinions, enable customers to make quick buying decisions, and help businesses design better products.

Graduate Student, College of Engineering (Vivek Revanna Shivaprabhu); Undergraduate Student, College of Business Administration (Moe Kanan)

RecoNinja uses artificial intelligence to present fine-tuned recommendations to users, allowing them to spend their valuable time consuming content, rather than searching for it.

Graduate Students, College of Business Administration (Soham Joshi, Advait Netravali, Melphin Parathazham, Harsh Selani, Nikunj Vora)

nexpil, inc. keeps heart failure patients in a homeostatic fluid state, autonomously titrating diuretics via machine-learning software, utilizing existing hardware technology to collect and deliver data.

Graduate Student, College of Business Administration & College of Medicine (Chris Duff); Alumnus, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences (Syed Khalid)

Hizzah is the education platform for young, active learners who want a more engaging experience by integrating learning with analytics and exciting multiplayer games.

Graduate Student, College of Pharmacy (Mohammed Munir Ahmed)

Early Venture Track Recognition: ($500)

Ecoair is an interdisciplinary team focusing on a sustainable lifestyle for cost efficient consumers by combining engineering and marketing mindsets to deliver a desirable product. 

Undergraduate Student, College of Business Administration (Donald Lacombe); Undergraduate Student, College of Engineering (Joonha Joo)

Clutch for Life gives prison inmates a second chance at success by allowing inmates to handcraft luxury bags for their community.

Undergraduate Student, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences (Karen Valencia)

ShoeBoxOne has evolved from the traditionally burdensome shoe storage and was created to fulfill every shoe collector’s dream.  A single solution to protect and present customers most valuable possessions.

Undergraduate Student, College of Engineering (Eddy Mejia)

Pear Loans, Inc. matches investors with small businesses through a patented online lending platform that provides faster funding, better rates, and asset backed security.

Graduate Students, College of Business Administration (Brendan Behrens, Alex Mauritz, Matt Puglisi, Dan Sorensen)

Winner Elevator Pitch/Fan Favorite ($750)

International Youth & Children Sports Development focuses on developing international sports programs for UIC international students, and over 1 million current students in Beijing, China. 

Graduate Student, College of Business Administration (Xiaoli Xu)


The UIC Startup Challenge is a multi-faceted year-long program that invites all members of the UIC community students, faculty, staff and alumni to explore how their own talents, academic training and aspirations may be enriched by an entrepreneurial mindset and skills.

For students of all disciplines, the UIC Startup Challenge is the key entrepreneurial experience that complements their classroom curriculum and challenges students to explore their potential interest in being an entrepreneur. Even for students who don’t pursue a startup, the UIC Startup Challenge is designed to be a significantly enriching experience that brings to life an individual’s own talents, academic background, and aspirations in a valuable way that better prepares them for whatever they may do upon graduation or further down the road in their careers. It is designed to foster interdisciplinary discovery and interactions so that students from differing colleges can find collaborators whose interests and skills supplement their own so that collectively they can envision and accomplish something that neither of them alone could achieve.

The UIC Startup Challenge live pitch competition held in the spring showcases the creativity, initiative, and talent of UIC students, faculty, staff and alumni to the greater Chicago community. Distinguished entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, angel investors, corporate executives and business leaders are among the judges.

This year, 156 participants across 56 teams advanced to the UIC Startup Challenge Semifinals!

Participants represented 12 UIC Colleges:

Applied Health Sciences

Architecture, Design, and the Arts




Graduate College

Liberal Arts and Sciences




Public Health

Urban Planning and Public Administration

Sponsors for event:

UIC College of Business, Brightstar Corp, Freshii, VestLo