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Written by Alicia Webb

Earlier this month, student led start-ups Zeestr and BMImmune came in second and third place at the VentureCat. VentureCat is an annual student startup competition that celebrates promising student founders. Culminating in a pitch competition, more than $325,000 in non-dilutive prize money is distributed to student ventures. Two Kellogg teams won a combined $75,000.  

Zeestr, which is led by Lauren Biegler '23 MBA; Tayo Dosunmu '23 MBA and Alexis Smith '23 MBA, won the second-place prize of $50,000. The team was victorious in the social impact track for their nonprofit fundraising and events platform, and they’re dedicated to building a platform that will help nonprofit organizations improve donor retention through effective marketing.
“We're thrilled to have secured second place in VentureCat. This honor allows us to complete our MVP and hire key personnel, driving client onboarding and revenue growth. The non-dilutive funding relieves us from excessive debt, enabling us to focus on the next chapter with confidence. Our heartfelt gratitude goes to the generous donors, The Garage and Kellogg. We are committed to providing updates on our post-VentureCat progress, assuring you that the funds are in capable hands.” 

BMImmune won third place and a prize of $25,000 for its potential new treatment for triple negative breast cancer. The team was led by Prashanth Somu '23 MBA. “We eventually aim to expand the indication to be applicable to more than just breast cancer,” Somu said. “There’s a list of 13 cancers in total.” 

“The school's support and resources including The Garage, faculty mentors, the Zell Program and the social impact department empowered us to refine our business model, hire key personnel and identify our blind spots that led to our success.”
The Zeestr Team

While building an organization from the ground up presents unique challenges, for members of the Zeester team being a part of something bigger than themselves makes it all worth it. They advise incoming Kellogg students who are interested in sustainability and social impact to embrace every program that is available. "Immerse yourself in the school’s programming, engage with clubs and events, connect with peers and faculty, embrace experiential opportunities and seek mentorship to maximize your involvement in social impact and sustainability at Kellogg." 

Read next: How Kellogg is cultivating a more sustainable future