Become a Startup Scout
University of Chicago

Join the ranks of VC startup scouts. Uncover the thrill of spotting potential in raw startups and bask in the intellectual stimulation this independent role provides. Ideal for University of Chicago members seeking new horizons.


The University of Chicago is an institution rich in resources for startups and venture capital (VC) interests. Its Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation serves as the dedicated resource to meet the needs of the University's various startup initiatives. The center offers a multitude of programs and events that support budding entrepreneurs, startups, and established businesses, thereby enhancing the startup and VC ecosystem of the University.

Among its successful initiatives, the Polsky Center runs the New Venture Challenge (NVC), deemed as one of the top-ranked accelerator programs in the U.S. Since its inception in 1996, the NVC has helped launch more than 330 companies, including successful exit examples like Grubhub and Braintree, both of which have seen valuations over a billion dollars. Grubhub, an online and mobile food-ordering and delivery marketplace, was co-founded by Matt Maloney, a University of Chicago Booth School of Business alumnus. Braintree, a company that specializes in mobile and web payment systems for e-commerce companies, was founded by Bryan Johnson, also a Booth School alum.

Additionally, the University of Chicago also boasts a thriving VC ecosystem. Through the UChicago Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC), students get real-world experience as venture capitalists, where they have to evaluate startups and negotiate with entrepreneurs. Alumni from the University have gone on to form and lead high-impact VC firms. For instance, Bryan Johnson, apart from founding Braintree, also founded OS Fund, a venture capital firm investing in startups focused on artificial intelligence, synthetic biology, genomics, and other frontier technologies.

The Chicago Innovation Exchange (CIE), a part of the Polsky Center, provides a space for students and local entrepreneurs to meet, share ideas, and develop new startups. CIE offers various resources including community membership, access to mentors, and funding opportunities. Student-led startups like ExplORer Surgical, a digital case management platform specifically designed for surgical teams, have benefitted from resources provided by CIE.

Beyond these, the University of Chicago also offers various courses in entrepreneurship and innovation, fostering a culture of entrepreneurship throughout the University. These programs enhance the startup and VC ecosystem by preparing students with the necessary skills and knowledge to launch and scale their ventures successfully.

As a Scout, You Can...

Kickstart Your Venture Capital Career

Showing your skills in picking successful startups and advising founders is the surest way to build your reputation and secure a venture capital role.

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Help Your Ecosystem Thrive

Your community, region, or group thrives when its founders are given the chance to succeed before going back and reinvesting in their comunities.

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Earn a Share in Startups Without Investing in Them

Earn a share in startups you scout without the funds to invest directly just like a VC partner.

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Monetise Your Content & Community

As a podcaster, community manager, or event organiser you have a front-row seat to interesting startups which you can monetise by helping them fundraise.

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Create a Fairer Society

By identifying under-represented founders you're level the playing field for anyone to success based on merit independent from their social or ethnic background.

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Help Friends Get Funded

Help your friends who are neck-deep in their startups get the funding they need to succeed.

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Grow Your Personal Brand

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Join as a Scout at Your University

Available Programs

Startup Investor?

Connect with investors, innovators, and startups coming out of the University of Chicago! We provide dealflow opportunities for those interested in investing in the latest ideas and products from the University.

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Scout Programs in Other Global Startup Hubs


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Co-Working Space Organiser

Do you help run a co-working space as an organiser or a greeter? Do you come across interesting entrepreneurs and startups?

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Event Organiser

Do you organise an event, conference, or trade show? Help your founder attendees get discovered.

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Are you active in the entrepreneurship club at your college? Doing an MBA? Or are you a PHD student at a technical university? Help your fellow students get funded.

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