Semifinalists gear up for VentureCat 2023

Posted on Posted in Press Release

25 teams to compete at VentureCat: Northwestern’s Annual Student Startup Competition

By: Kelvin Wong, ’26

“Oh my goodness.” 

This was Resident Aspen Buckingham’s first reaction when he learned that his startup, Overture Games, was chosen as one of 25 student-founded startups selected as VentureCat 2023 Semifinalists.

“I’m so excited and looking forward to showing off what we’ve been working on,” Buckingham said. 

Over the last few weeks, the Semifinalist startups have been participating in a Pitch Prep Program which granted them access to professional graphic design services, pitch coaching and industry-specific advisers. 

Charlotte Oxnam, founder of Resident team Cue the Curves, is enthusiastic about the resources offered to Semifinalist teams. For Oxnam, the Pitch Prep Program will “take Cue the Curves to the next level.” 

Steven Jiang, chief sales officer of Overture Games, especially appreciates the graphic design services. He has been taking on the team’s design work ever since they participated in Jumpstart, The Garage’s Pre-Accelerator program, last summer. 

“Graphic design support from VentureCat is really key,” Jiang said. “I’m excited to get to know this driven community and then compete together.”

The youngest founder of the competition is undergraduate first-year Terry Chen. He founded his startup, Cogno, in November of 2022 and has since become a core member of The Garage’s Residency program. Cogno plans to utilize the Pitch Prep Program to bolster their pitch deck, specifically implementing story-telling into their investor pitch.

“This was my first time competing in a college-level entrepreneurship competition, so it was definitely surprising to see that we’ve made it to the semifinals. There’s more work to be done now,” Chen said excitedly.

Meet your VentureCat 2023 Semifinalists!

The Pitch Prep Program ends on Wednesday, May 31, when each Semifinalist team will compete for a prize pool of more than $325,000 in non-dilutive funding.

Competition day will kick off with private semifinals pitches. Startups will pitch their ventures to a panel of industry experts, who will select the top team in each track as well as a “wildcard” from second-place teams. Finalists will then move on to pitch to investors and founders.

Competition day ends with the finalists taking the main stage to pitch one more time to an audience of hundreds of students, alums and investors at the Public Showcase. The audience will vote for their favorite startup before final prizes are announced. 

Claim your seat at the Public Showcase now! Register here to attend the May 31 event at the Kellogg Global Hub in Evanston, or to receive the link to watch the virtual livestream.


Kelvin Wong is a first-year student studying at the Medill School of Journalism. Originally from Los Angeles, California, Kelvin is excited to explore entrepreneurship at The Garage as a member of Resident team, Litterbox LLC, and through his own ventures.


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