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June 01, 2022

The John Edwardson, ’72, Social New Venture Challenge (SNVC) is run by the Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation at Chicago Booth in partnership with the Polsky Center. It is the cornerstone of the Rustandy Center’s Edwardson Social Entrepreneurship Program at the University of Chicago, which has helped businesses and nonprofits like solar-powered light company LuminAID, African tractor-leasing company Hello Tractor, and online voter guide BallotReady. SNVC teams can be for-profit or nonprofit organizations, but must present a business model with a social mission at the core as well as a plausible plan for financial sustainability—either through earned income, philanthropy, government aid, or some combination thereof.


To encourage the founding and growth of high-potential new ventures with a social mission.

Most other business schools and graduate entrepreneurship programs host a single day or weekend business plan competition. The SNVC at Chicago Booth is not just a competition. Instead, it is a year-long launch program that 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 Wednesday, January 25, 2023.
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 1, 2023.


There is no minimum or maximum team size, however, each team is required to have at least one currently enrolled graduate student at the University of Chicago. Alumni of the university and individuals not affiliated with the university are eligible to apply to the SNVC as long as they have at least one current UChicago graduate student as an integral member of the team (i.e., someone with a minimum of 10% equity stake in the venture). Only current UChicago students are allowed to present in class and at the finals event; other team members may participate in the Q&A only.

Entries must be the original work of the entrants and may be made by a single-student or by multi-student teams. It is highly encouraged to submit an application to the SNVC as a team with cross-functional expertise. 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.

SNVC teams can be for-profit or nonprofit organizations. The venture idea should be original, have commercial promise, and have a business model with a social mission at its core. The entry may be developed in conjunction with a course or research project, and students may enlist faculty aid.

Prizes & Equity Agreement

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 SNVC finalist must review the terms of the SAFE agreement or grant agreement provided by the Rustandy Center. As a condition to receive an award, each winning for-profit team must agree to provide the Rustandy 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.
University Of Chicago Booth School Of Business