Chicago Booth Awards $50,000 to Social New Venture Challenge Teams

Purple Binder Takes Top Prize at Third Annual John Edwardson, ’72, Social Venture Competition

The University of Chicago Booth School of Business, its Social Enterprise Initiative and the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation announced at a reception on May 30, 2013 the winners of the third annual Social New Venture Challenge (SNVC), the school’s premier start-up program for social ventures.

The SNVC spans the full academic year and helps students launch and run new businesses with a focus on social impact. Modeled after the original Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge, SNVC companies can be structured either as for-profits or nonprofits and must show a model for financial sustainability.

More than 30 teams applied to the program, which culminated at the finals event on May 29. This year’s winners, chosen from a group of six finalists, were awarded $50,000 in cash prizes:

  • Purple Binder won the first place prize of $35,000. With no central place for social workers or health care professionals to find all the services for their clients, Purple Binder offers a one-stop shop for making referrals.
  • Project SAM placed second and received a $10,000 prize. Project SAM (SMS Accounting Management) is an innovative feature-phone application targeted at organizations and individuals in developing countries that will allow for the tracking of business inventories and useful statistics simply via text.
  • EduLink placed third and received $5,000. EduLink selects high potential low-income students, trains them in critical business skills, and places them in internships that cover their complete tuition costs.

The Purple Binder team includes SSA second year Extended Evening students Lauren Johnson,The Purple Binder Team Laura Morales, and Lauren Webb and Purple Binder founders and UChicago College grads Joseph Flesh, AB '12 and Declan Frye, AB '10, (both Computer Science). Johnson, Morales, and Webb will graduate from SSA in 2014.

In addition to working full-time and attending school, all of our SSA students are working at field placements (internships). Lauren Johnson, a clinical student, is working at the Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital; Laura Morales, an administration student is working at Erie Neighborhood House; and Lauren Webb, an administration student who is also pursuing her certificate in SSA's Graduate Program in Health Administration and Policy (GPHAP) is working at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago.

"It was so valuable, in addition to everything that we've learned here at SSA as clinical social workers and social welfare professionals, to have had the experience in working within a business context," said Laura Morales of the experience. 

The success of the Social New Venture Challenge is made possible through the generous support of sponsors, including John Edwardson, ’72, retired chairman and chief executive of CDW. He is a supporter of the Chicago Booth Social Enterprise Initiative, which includes helping students launch and grow businesses in the social sector and endowed the SNVC in 2013. Additional program sponsors include Ron Tarrson, '72, managing partner and director, Santa Fe Aero Services; and Steve Tarrson. 

“Congratulations to the winners and to all of the participants in the 2013 Social New Venture Challenge,” said Robert Gertner, Joel F. Gemunder Professor of Strategy and Finance, deputy dean, and faculty co-director of the Social Enterprise Initiative. “Teams came together from all areas of the University of Chicago campus to work on some truly inspiring businesses. We’re eager to see these start-ups grow.”