Money Moves: This Year’s Biggest Wins

There’s a lot happening on any given day here at The Garage. Whether it’s prototyping a new piece of hardware in The Makerspace, a brainstorming session in the bean bag cave, or a class in The Workspace, we know that it can be hard to keep up. And even though we do our best to keep up, too, we’re losing track of current Resident team accomplishments and alumni team accomplishments. So, in case you missed it, here’s a roundup of some of the biggest moves our startups have made so far this year.

Way back in mid-February, Resident team PedalCell traveled north to the University of Michigan for the annual Michigan Business Challenge. While PedalCell calls Northwestern home, specifically its co-founder and CEO Vishaal Mali, McCormick ’20, some of its team members, like COO Adam Hokin, are currently based in Michigan. After four months of competing alongside 80 other companies, PedalCell was awarded $15,000 for first place in the Impact track. The Impact track valued businesses that “best pursued a mission-driven goal through its product offerings and underlying operations of the firm.” PedalCell also took home a second check for the Outstanding Presentation award, given to only two companies in the competition. The momentum didn’t stop there. PedalCell went on to compete in VentureCat, Northwestern’s annual student startup competition, and took home second place in the Energy + Sustainability Track, racking up $20,000 total since February 2018, not including additional funding through Northwestern’s Sustainability Fund

PedalCell co-founder and CEO Vishaal Mali, McCormick ’20

February was a big month, not just for PedalCell, but Aerospec, too! Born out of Northwestern and lead by Lance Li, Kellogg ’17, Aerospec competed along with only seven other cleantech student founded startups at Clean Energy Trust’s annual business plan competition. Judged by a panel of experts and VC’s, Aerospec took home the grand prize of $50,000. Aerospec was said to “[impress] with their patented infrared imaging solar inspection technology and initial progress with their first customers.”

Business to business startup, The Graide Network, lead by Blaire Pircon, Kellogg ’16, also just raised a successful seed round of more than $1.2 million. With an award-winning, innovative model, The Graide Network, based in Chicago, provides on-demand, formative feedback on student writing via remote teaching assistants. They also welcomed a few more additions to their investor group, including the well-known impact fund, Impact Engine.

L to R: Karl Hughes, Zachary Garwood, Becca Lett, Liz Nell and Blair Pircon, Co-Founder and CEO, Kellogg ’16

In recent news, Northwestern’s very own BrewBike has had a major month of May. BrewBike took home first in the Food + Beverage track at VentureCat, making its way to the finals stage. They ended up with second place overall, racking up $20,000 in non-dilutive prize money. But the hustle never stops! Co-founder and CGO Lucas Philips, SESP ’19 has recently brought on some new team members based out of the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, and the new collab competed in the University of Chicago’s New Venture Challenge just one week after VentureCat. Our fav cold brew coffee startup took home $45,000: $20,000 for their acceptance into the Pritzker Group Venture Fellows Program this summer, $12,500 from the Polsky Center, and $12,500 from the UChicago Innovation Fund.

Lucas Philips, SESP ’19, pitches at VentureCat 2018

And that’s not including an additional $17,000 in winnings by Resident teams during the VentureCat semifinals.

VentureCat 2018 finalists

And then Stephen Lane, Kellogg ’16 and Tushar Garg, Kellogg ’16 changed the game completely, announcing that their startup, FlyHomes, landed a $17 million funding round to finance its newest program, Cash Offers, where “the brokerage will purchase houses directly with cash and then hold onto them until the startup’s buyer clients secure financing. The goal is to present its clients as the equivalent of cash buyers, which in turn helps sellers get the most for their property.

That’s right. More than $18 million raised and won by Northwestern founded startups, from here at our very own stage at Kellogg to conference rooms around Chicago. And that’s just this year. There’s so much more to come. To see all of the results of VentureCat 2018, click here. And don’t forget to keep up with all things Northwestern entrepreneurship, and sign up for our monthly newsletter