Chicago Booth: The Global New Venture Challenge |

Chicago Booth: The Global New Venture Challenge

By Niamh O

Updated August 18, 2021 Updated August 18, 2021

Even if you only have a passing interest in entrepreneurship, the winning team of this year's Global New Venture Challenge say the experience will be a worthwhile one.

Top teams from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business’ London, Hong Kong and Chicago campuses pitched their business ideas before a panel of judges as part of the Global New Venture Challenge, with a top prize on offer of US$70,000. 

Second-year students on the Chicago Booth Executive MBA programme are eligible to apply to the challenge and participate as one of their capstone course requirements. 

One major benefit is the participation of Booth alumni and members of the business community in the coaching and judging portions of the competition. More than 80 coaches, judges, panellists and guest speakers participate each year. 

Waverly Deutsch, clinical professor of entrepreneurship at Booth and director of Chicago Global Entrepreneurs Network at the Polsky Centre said: “The Global New Venture Challenge (GNVC) started 14 years ago as an outgrowth of the New Venture Challenge process begun at Chicago Booth 25 years ago. 

“At first the GNVC was an extracurricular activity but was later added as a for-credit class. In the last seven years, the prize money was converted into founder-friendly investments in the company – rather than simply cash prizes. Our hope is that supporting these companies will make the GNVC process self-sustaining as companies exit and our investments generate returns. 

“These returns are already being seen, for example when GrubHub had its IPO. That funding goes back into programmes that support entrepreneurship at Chicago Booth and the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship.” 

The winning team 

  • Dr Grace Lin, CEO 

  • Dan Berg, Chief Financial Officer 

  • Ken Suh, Chief Legal Officer 

  • Ranjith Gopalakrishnan, Chief Operating Officer 

  • Dr Peter Brady, Chief Medical Officer 

  • Prakash Ramani, Advisor 

The above six team members developed HeartScreen, a smartphone-based telemedicine toolkit which won first place and US$70,000 in this year’s challenge. 

TopMBA caught up with the team to find out about the competition itself and what winning means for the future of HeartScreen. 

The team participated in the case competition as they were curious about entrepreneurship, but the GNVC also provided a unique opportunity to bring together the eclectic team with individual strengths and knowledge.  

HeartScreen’s management team consists of two cardiologists, a barrister with expertise in intellectual property, a director of finance at a wealth management fund, and an operations lead with expertise in supply chain and consulting. 

They believe their team reflects a major strength of Chicago Booth’s EMBA programme, enabling varied experts in their respective fields to come together and complement each other. 

HeartScreen said: “We had an idea for a telemedicine toolkit to solve a pain point and unmet need in the telemedicine space, specifically in cardiology, but had no or limited entrepreneurship experience. 

“GNVC provided a rigorous, real-life simulation of taking an idea to a viable business plan.”  

But how did the idea for the telemedicine toolkit come about? Two of HeartScreen’s co-founders are cardiologists in teaching hospitals who experienced the sudden and complete transition to telemedicine during the early part of the COVID 19 pandemic first-hand. 

Prior to the pandemic, telemedicine was mainly utilised by general practitioners, and specialists (including cardiologists), believed patients couldn’t be adequately treated by telemedicine as there was no capacity to examine patients or listen to heart sounds. 

However, the pandemic forced patients and doctors to use telemedicine more, for the likes of videoconferencing and to collect biometric data including taking pictures of skin conditions. 

This prompted the team to think whether a smartphone microphone could listen to heart sounds to enable a cardiologist to screen patients for certain heart conditions.   

HeartScreen, the smartphone-based telemedicine toolkit, was born from this idea. 

The team said: “We believe our smartphone innovation has the potential to change the practice and business of medicine by connecting cardiologists and patients via telemedicine, increasing the availability and capacity of heart disease screenings to patients that are unable to receive such care today. 

“We’re driven by our core belief that HeartScreen will revolutionise telemedicine and screening for heart disease.”   

The importance of competitions on EMBA programmes 

HeartScreen believe the GNVC was critical for them. They acknowledge they received a lot of professional and subject matter expertise, but little exposure to the entrepreneurship process. 

The team said: “We received guidance, feedback, and coaching from Waverly Deutsch, Clinical Professor and Polsky Director for the UChicago Global Entrepreneurs Network, as well as hand-selected Booth alumni who worked in healthcare-focused venture capital funds. 

“The guidance we received from this team was invaluable as we moulded a vague concept into a viable business that investors would find appealing. Our journey began one year ago with the Building the New Venture Class, but we made dramatic progress during the GNVC class where we refined our business plan and pitch daily.” 

Taking home the gold 

HeartScreen say taking home first prize felt like validation for their hard work, teamwork and ability to adapt the Chicago Booth approach to the entrepreneurship process. 

The team said: “The coaching we received during the GNVC process enabled us to hone our vision, and valuable proposition to potential investors and we are grateful for the Chicago Booth community of coaches and Professor Deutsch.” 

But what will HeartScreen do with the US$70,000 investment? They plan to use the funding to continue their entrepreneurship process with continued support from Professor Deutsch, Chicago Booth and the Chicago Booth community. 

Why Booth for an EMBA? 

HeartScreen say they chose Booth because of the Chicago Booth approach to teaching – as well as the high standards among students and faculty the team say they felt privileged to be a part of.  

Although entrepreneurship wasn’t a priority when they chose Booth, HeartScreen say they’ve universally agreed that GNVC was the most rewarding experience in the whole programme. 

They said: “It highlighted just how far we had come in our understanding of accounting, finance, strategy, and leadership, and GNVC was a unique experience that allowed us to apply these theories in a meaningful transformation of an idea to a meaningful business opportunity.” 

Is the GNVC worthwhile? 

HeartScreen say they would recommend the whole Booth EMBA experience without a doubt, but especially the GNVC if you have even a passing interest in entrepreneurship. 

They said: “The experience was intense, but we learned so much in a very short time about the process of turning an idea into a business, how to receive and adjust to critical feedback, navigate stressful discussions with teammates, and apply the theories we learned during the EMBA.” 

With a taste for experience, the team admit they’re hooked and want to see this through to make HeartScreen successful. They said: “GNVC was the defining experience of our Booth EMBA.” 

Even if you have no intention of being an entrepreneur, HeartScreen recommend taking a chance on the GNVC. 

They said: “For those of us with little to no entrepreneurship experience, “start-up” tends to invoke grand visions of epiphanies that magically turn into unicorn companies, but the critical process of turning ideas into a viable start-up business is so much more rigorous, methodical, and rewarding than mere classroom discussion can’t do it justice.”

This article was originally published in July 2021 . It was last updated in August 2021

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Written by

Niamh is Deputy Head of Content at QS (;, creating and editing content for an international student audience. Having gained her journalism qualification at the Press Association, London and since written for different international publications, she's now enjoying telling the stories of students, alumni, faculty, entrepreneurs and organizations from across the globe.  


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