Challenge Cup Chicago Chooses 4 Startups to Compete Nationally

November 5, 2013

2:54 pm

The Challenge Cup is a global startup competition organized by 1776 – read more here.  

1776’s 16-city Challenge Cup competition made its second stop in Chicago at startup incubator 1871, bringing together competitive rising startups disrupting the education, health care, energy, and “smart city” sectors.

Out of the almost 30 startups that competed, one winner was chosen from each of four different categories. These winners will make their way to Washington in May to compete with the four winners from each of the 16 Challenge Cup cities.


Youtopia: “You never have to remind a child how to play a video game,” said CEO Simeon Schnapper to Challenge Cup judges. Youtopia now provides a more fun way to learn – through gamification. Students earn badges and points for the good things they do, and teachers and managers can track progress this way in return. There can be real rewards to these badges. For example, certain internships on the site are up for applications if you receive a certain amount of badges.

The company has formed a number of valuable relationships already with service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega and the Mozilla Foundation Open Badges community, and the company recently earned a Google Grant to “badgify” ten STEM schools, Schnapper said.



myPower: myPower lets you generate power while running, clipping to your hip and storing energy so you can charge your iPhone later with kinetic energy generated. Forty-five minutes of running with myPower can give you 7-8 hours of extra battery juice, the company reported.

The founders told judges that using myPower for an hour a day for a year would offset the carbon footprint of the phone, which is five million metric tons of carbon dioxide yearly.  The goal is to “stay fit, stay charged, and stay green.” And founders said the product intersects a number of industries. Running gear is a $4 billion industry and smart phone accessories are $20 billion.

Founders said their ultimate price point would be $60. But they’re still prototyping, so we have to wait until they start producing the product first, which will have a USB port and would work like a battery pack does.



Caremerge: When Steve Jobs was being treated for his illness, his health care was poorly coordinated because his doctors weren’t talking to each other, Caremerge founders explained to judges.

They explained this is often the case, especially for the most vulnerable population – the elderly, with the most number of providers and the most chronic illnesses. Caremerge now helps health care providers communicate with far less paper and at the touch of a button. It helps family members, senior living facility, and outside physicians facilitate the “right info at the right time to the right providers, so they can make the right choices,” said founder Asif Khan.



CityScan: City resources are allocated in uneven and unfair ways, CEO David Guttman told judges. CityScan takes urban data at the street level, and helps cities locate issues and better allocate resources for repairs. If there is unsafe scaffolding, unsafe construction, broken sidewalks, or billboards without permits, CityScan can now find the problem in a city through Google-Maps-type street-view technology, making it less expensive to locate city problems.

In effect, cities can enforce rules and fix problems at a faster rate, founders told judges. And a lot of revenue comes from fees left unenforced, allowing CityScan to recapture “millions in lost revenue,” Guttman said. He said $3-5 million is left on the table from uncollected construction permitting frees, and a half million for billboards. And instead of having cities raise these types of fees for everyone else, cities can simply collect the money they were owed in the first place.


All finalists proposed diverse and solutions to each category. They also demonstrated that though it might not be easy to find profitable solutions for some of the most pressing global issues, it is certainly possible.

And the Challenge Cup might make it a step toward startup reality with monetary investment – the overall competition winner will take home a $150,000 investment from 1776. Until then, next stop on the Challenge Cup tour: Moscow.

Challenge Cup winners

Guest author Sonali Basak is a freelance tech and business reporter. She fell in love with the tech world in Chicago, and believes good technology changes the world. She now reports on startups and corporations innovating new, and exciting, things. She received her MSJ from Medill School of Journalism and her bachelor’s from Bucknell.  Follow Sonali on Twitter: @sonalibasak.

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