Booth’s Student Entrepreneurship Awards honor aspiring leaders in entrepreneurship, venture capital and private equity

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Last month, Chicago Booth recognized six outstanding MBA students who have demonstrated leadership in entrepreneurship, venture capital or private equity during their studies.

The annual student entrepreneurship awards have varying eligibility conditions and monetary prices. For most of the awards, Booth’s entrepreneurship faculty and staff at the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation nominate students and vote for the winners.

Only the Rattan L. Khosa Student Entrepreneurship Award, ’79, “Against All Odds” solicits nominations and nominations directly from students. Nearly 100 nominations and nominations were received and a winner was selected by a Polsky Center staff committee.

“The six students honored this year, especially in light of all the COVID-related challenges we have faced as a community, exemplify the best characteristics of entrepreneurship through their persistence and dedication,” said Dan Sachs , Executive Director of Programs and Education at the Polsky Center. “We are very grateful to our donors who recognized these students and their valuable contributions to the Booth community. “

The 2021 Student Entrepreneurship Award winners are:

Ali Mahmoud // Hyde Park Angels VC Prize // $ 2,000
This award recognizes a graduate student pursuing a full-time career in venture capital, who has also shown an interest in VC by participating in VC courses and programs and has maintained a minimum GPA of 3.5 GPA in the entrepreneurship sequence.

Ali Mahmoud, MBA ’21, is passionate about early stage venture capital. He joined the Glasswing Ventures investment team in January 2021 after working in the investment teams of Morpheus Ventures and Lightbank, where he focused on early stage B2B technology in various industries. Previously, Mahmoud was a founding member of the team and responsible for business development at SixPlus, a platform that simplifies the process of booking private catering spaces for groups, where he developed functions of sales, marketing, business development and operations. He worked at EY on financial statement consulting and auditing assignments in the financial services industry after earning a BBA in accounting from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

“I am delighted to be working in a job that I love,” said Mahmoud. “At VC, I am surrounded by passionate, creative, courageous and intelligent people. Every day is different and by connecting and partnering with entrepreneurs who are building cutting edge technology, I almost have my own crystal ball to see what the future might look like.

Najib Jai // Madison Dearborn Partners Private Equity Award // $ 2,000
This award recognizes a student who has demonstrated leadership and interest in private equity by participating in physical education classes and programs, and who has maintained a minimum of 3.5 PGAs in the sequence of entrepreneurship.

Najib Jai is completing a dual MBA / MD degree at Chicago Booth and the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine, which he intends to use to pursue a path at the intersection of healthcare and business. During the five years of his graduate program, he interned and worked with four different mid-market healthcare private equity firms. In addition to the leadership roles he held in medical school, he served as class co-chair of the 2020 Booth Private Equity Group, where he focused on helping other students from non-academic backgrounds. traditional ones with private equity aspirations. Prior to graduate school, Jai graduated in chemistry from Duke University and worked for a year as a research chemist with chemistry giant BASF.

“As an MD / MBA candidate with career aspirations to positively impact healthcare in a systemic way, private equity quickly became an interest of mine when I first started at Chicago Booth,” said I have. “The constant support I have received from Polsky and their respective mentors has enabled me to make an informed decision in my career as I advance as a Healthcare Operator in the role of Director with Oak Street. Health. “

Bharat Das // Moulder Student Entrepreneur Award // $ 2,000
This award recognizes a student who has started or significantly developed a new business during their time at Booth and who has benefited greatly from the Entrepreneurship Studies program and Polsky Center programs to move the business forward. The business must have an established source of income and a sustainable business model and be ready to grow after graduation.

Bharat Das, MBA ’20, is Founder and CEO of Pippin Title, a first place home insurance software startup that won $ 450,000 in the 2020 Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge. The New York-based company has grown rapidly since, processing more than 30,000 real estate transactions on its platform last year, and has caught the attention of real estate industry insiders as well as private equity investors. risk. Prior to Booth, Das worked on Wall Street, first in investment banking at Goldman Sachs, then at Harvard Management Company, where he was a portfolio manager. He completed his undergraduate studies in physics and anthropology at Harvard University.

“Polsky has been a huge help in the growth of my business, Pippin Title,” said Das. “We had some of our first clients in Professor Michael Alter’s Entrepreneurial Selling course, and then after developing the business plan through the mentoring programs offered by the Center, winning the New Venture Challenge helped to put our company on the map for new investors. “

Whitney McElwain and James Havlock // The 14th Annual Vijay, ’77 and Sita Vashee Promising Entrepreneur Award // $ 2,500
This award recognizes graduate students who have demonstrated leadership and interest in entrepreneurship by participating in relevant courses or entrepreneurial initiatives, and who have maintained a minimum average of 3.5 GPA in the entrepreneurship sequence .

Whitney McElwain, MBA ’21, is the founder and CEO of Resette, a beauty and skin care company she plans to run full time after graduation. Resette placed fourth in the Edward L. Kaplan New Venture Challenge 2021, winning an investment of $ 96,250. While at Booth, McElwain interned at Curology, a skincare startup in San Francisco, and Listen Ventures, a startup venture capital firm in Chicago. She was also co-chair of the Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Club. Prior to Booth, McElwain spent 10 years in consumer marketing, holding several positions at Red Bull, most recently as Athlete Marketing Manager. She then joined the Business Incubation Group at 1-800 Contacts as Senior Manager. McElwain holds a BS in Advertising with Distinction from the University of Texas at Austin.

“I’ve always had a desire to build and take risks, and Booth was the place that really supported me in that area,” McElwain said. “I wouldn’t have founded and now full-time my own startup without my time at Booth and access to valuable resources through Polsky.”

James Havlock, MBA ’21, spent the majority of his time at Booth with groups related to Polsky, including internships through the PE / VC lab and advising a startup through the Collaboratorium. He was LEAD Facil (Leadership Effectiveness And Development), co-chair of the Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition (ETA) group and co-chair of the 7th annual ETA conference, the largest of its kind, with over 1,000 participants. . In January, Havlock joined Validates, a Series A start-up focused on using product quality information to support the energy and ESG (environment, social and governance) sectors. He studied chemical engineering at Texas A&M University and upon graduation joined ExxonMobil, where he worked on projects ranging from the design of $ 45 billion megaprojects to refinery operations.

“The staff, mentors, and faculty associated with the Polsky Center played the biggest role in my development during my time at Booth,” said Havlock. “From entrepreneurial discovery with Professor Mark Tebbe to entrepreneurship through acquisition with Professors Brian O’Connor and Mark Agnew, to mentoring sessions with Chris McGowan and Tim Kelly, I can’t think of my experience without being deeply grateful for the support of the Polsky Center. . “

Albert Castelltort Mikkelsen // Rattan L. Khosa, `79,“ Against All Odds ”Student Entrepreneurship Award // $ 2,500
This award recognizes a graduate student in the 2020-2021 academic year who has overcome significant obstacles and demonstrated an entrepreneurial spirit to significantly launch or develop a new business. The recipient should have benefited greatly from the programs of the Polsky Center to move the business forward, which should have an established source of income and a sustainable business model and be ready for growth after graduation.

Albert C. Mikkelsen, MBA ’21, is co-founder of Ollippis Fertility, a company that offers free egg freezing to eligible women willing to donate half of their recovered eggs to help families struggling with infertility. Ollipsis, who placed fourth and received a $ 50,000 investment in the 2020 Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge, in May marked a milestone by completing his first free egg retrieval and freezing for the patient.

A native of Barcelona, ​​Spain, Mikkelsen said he faced many obstacles upon arriving in the United States with nothing but the idea of ​​Ollippis. He had no connection and relied heavily on Booth to find teammates, advisers and investors. It was difficult to find a recognized medical director to join the team without first having credibility in the fertility industry – and vice versa. He also faced regulatory, operational and ethical issues.

“This award is extremely meaningful to me,” Mikkelsen said. “Starting a business during my MBA was a real roller coaster ride. The highs are very high and the lows are very low. Just like there are times I thought it was unstoppable, there were also many times I wondered if we would go somewhere. Getting “Against All Odds” recognition resonates as I remember going through each of these moments. “

Prior to Booth, Mikkelsen was Founder and Managing Partner of First Venturing, a consulting firm specializing in business innovation and serving clients in Germany, Spain, Italy and France. He received an undergraduate degree in Media and Cultural Studies from the University of the Arts in London and calls himself a “retired rockstar” who occasionally releases a track on Spotify.

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