Startup ideas get a boost at Concept2Venture Challenge

C2V competition

MBA student Jason Rebello pitches his team’s winning plan, NuFortis. Photo: Julie Jaidinger

This year, it wasn’t just students who were invited to bring their  entrepreneurial ideas to the Concept2Venture Challenge.

For the first time, the UIC Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies opened the business plan competition to UIC faculty, staff and alumni.

Teams from 10 colleges answered the challenge at the ninth annual contest Dec. 16 and 17. Judges considered each team’s entire business idea, looking at overall feasibility, capital gains potential, investment possibilities and implementation.

NuFortis, a team of three Liautaud MBA students, won the grand prize in the graduate, faculty and alumni division, worth $2,500.

NuFortis impressed the judges with its plan to provide the Federal Highway Administration and state transportation agencies with data to help allocate repair and maintenance funds for bridge infrastructures.

The team — Brittany Chibe, Flor Fernandez, and Jason Rebello — defeated three others for the grand prize in the finals of the two-day event.

“Winning C2V given the strong competition was very surreal,” Rebello said. “We owe a lot to the people that constantly challenged and pushed us to realize more and more of our potential.”

NuFortis’ technology uses an algorithm to detect damage as it happens, developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

ShySpa, a mobile application that connects traveling cosmetologists and beauticians with clients to provide at-home services, won the $2,500 first prize in the undergraduate division.

“I don’t find driving to the salon to be a relaxing experience,” said Jacquelyn Jenke, a December ’13 marketing graduate who came up with the idea. “I wanted service providers to come to me in the comfort of my home.”

Jenke said she knew there were mobile salons and stylists, but couldn’t find any in her area.

“Through market research, not only did I find a need for this type of application within the salon industry, but I found a whole demographic of homebound and disabled who often times have trouble locating trusted service providers. I hope to bridge that gap with ShySpa,” she said.

C2V competition

Team members for Savvo Digital Sommelier Solutions, one of the finalists, outline their plan. Photo: Julie Jaidinger

The Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies wanted to open the competition to a larger range of participants this year, said executive director Nancy Harvey.

“For undergraduates, we encourage them to try it, whether it fits with something they want to do as a career, or just enriches their experience or makes them better prepared for a job out of college,” Harvey said.

“For faculty and graduate students, this is still a great opportunity to bring their intellectual property to market.”

Teams came from colleges including Applied Health Sciences; Architecture, Design and the Arts; Business Administration; Engineering; Liberal Arts and Sciences; Medicine; Nursing; Pharmacy; Public Health; and Urban Planning and Public Affairs.


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