CommonCents Named Top Winner at the 2016 College New Venture Challenge

May 26, 2016

At the annual College New Venture Challenge (CNVC) finals on Thursday, May 26, CommonCents was named the top winner. Cofounded by Madeleine Barr (AB ’16), Maggi Heneghan (AB ’16) and Reshad Monsur (AB ’16), CommonCents is a platform for student loan management, payment and refinance. Rounding up to the dollar for every day purchases made with Venmo and debit cards, the team encourages students to pay down their loans with micro-payments while still in school. The team received a $15,000 prize and has also been accepted to the Polsky Accelerator this summer.

The other three finalists will each receive a $5,000 prize. The runners-up are:

  • Finalyze is a business intelligence platform that mines insights from large datasets for human analysts to query, visualize, and analyze. Team members include Abhimanyu Deora (AB ’19), Anand Kannappan (AB ’19), and Jigar Shah (AB ’19). Finalyze will also participate in the Polsky Accelerator this summer.
  • StoryArts Summer Camp provides affordable summer programming to Mid-South Side middle school students focusing on community-oriented arts and storytelling projects. Team members includes Bess Cohen (AB ’16), Amelia Dmowska (AB ’16), Emiliano  Burr di Mauro (AB ’17), and Jonathan Poilpre (AB ’19).
  • MealFlour builds mealworm farms from recycled material in food deserts. The farms manufacture protein rich flour to be sold to local bakeries and markets in developing parts of the world. Team members include Elizabeth Frank (AB ’16), Joyce Lu (AB ’16), and Gabrielle Wimer (AB ’16).

The CNVC started in the fall with a kick-off and ideation event encouraging students to explore potential ideas and form teams.  In the winter, teams submitted feasibility summaries and 12 teams were selected as semi-finalists. After two rounds of presentations and submitting final business plans, the 4 finalist teams were selected to share in $30,000 in prize money.

The CNVC continues to be a flagship event for the University of Chicago’s Career Advancement office, and is run in partnership with the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.