May 21, 2015

UChicago alum's start-up Reliefwatch wins $50,000 in international competition

Former UChicago undergraduate Daniel Yu, Class of 2015, has won $50,000 for his start-up Reliefwatch at the 1776 Challenge Cup Festival, an international start-up competition. The Chicago-based company beat out more than 25 teams, and was selected as one of three Challenge Cup Global Winners from a pool of nine finalists.

Reliefwatch is an inventory management platform that helps multinational non-governmental organizations operate health clinics in developing countries. By using basic mobile phone technology, Reliefwatch assists clinics in tracking supplies and managing inventory records, essentially enabling real-time communication between clinics and medical suppliers without the need for Internet access. The company has been gaining significant global attention for its activity in clinics in Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, and Liberia.

Twenty-one-year-old Yu spent two years at the University majoring in Near Eastern languages and civilizations before leaving in 2013 to focus on the company full-time. Yu created the company in 2012 after spending a summer studying abroad in rural Egypt. While he does not see himself returning to the University in the near future, Yu has said that his company will always have its roots in Chicago.

Yu has received numerous accolades for his company. In 2013, Reliefwatch took second place at the Social New Venture Challenge. The organization was named a “Chicago Inno Startup to Watch” last December. In February, Yu won the prestigious Prince of Wales Young Sustainability Entrepreneurs Prize in London, beating out over 800 entrepreneurs from 88 countries.

Reliefwatch plans to expand service to 10 new organizations this year. Following the Nepal earthquake, Reliefwatch partnered with the relief organization Samaritan’s Purse to distribute 60 tons of aid to 15,000 families.