New Venture Challenge Cataloguing

This was my very first coding project (Summer 2017) outside of web development, so I’m a bit sentimental about it although the code is poor in retrospect. That atrocity can be found here on Github, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

The Chicago Booth New Venture Challenge is the Top Rated University Accelerator in the United States. Below, you can see it on the “Platinum Tier” right alongside Techstars, and just a bit below YCombinator. It’s produced powerhouse startups such as GrubHub and Braintree.

While working at the Chicago Booth Polsky Center in the Summer of 2017 (Polsky organizes NVC), I was given the project of cataloguing all NVC companies, participants, particpants’ graduation dates, and awards in its 21-year history. This would make it easier for the Marketing Team to reference successful startup founders and companies in press releases.

There are nearly 1000 startups that have been through NVC since its inception, across five tracks:

  • College NVC (restricted to undergraduates)
  • Social NVC (for startups with a social impact)
  • Global NVC (for startups on any of Chicago Booth’s international campuses)
  • Traditional NVC (the standard one for those in Booth’s MBA program at UChicago’s Hyde Park and Gleacher Center campuses)
  • Alumni NVC (introduced after my project in 2019 for all Booth alumni)

The information about each startup was split between the Booth School’s website and an Excel spreadsheet. The process of manually sorting through both could take the better part of a month or more for all 1000 startups.

Instead, I decided to learn Python using Learn Python the Hard Way to scrape the website for its pertinent information. Once I had the script running, I finished the project in about a week, allowing me to focus on other priorities for the Polsky Center.

The final deliverable looked like this, and as you can see it’s 122 pages long, for just the traditional NVC track. All tracks combined would be about 400 pages long.

This project ultimately inspired me to pick up a CS major at UChicago (although for separate reasons I was unable to complete the major), and to learn data structures and algorithms for future CS projects. It was a nice foray out of the world of webdev, while still relying on webdev concepts to actually scrape the pertinent data.