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Sterling Partners Investment Thesis Challenge (SPITC)
May 15, 2022

The Sterling Partners Investment Thesis Challenge (SPITC) launched in 2011 with the generous support of Sterling Partners. SPITC enables Chicago Booth student teams to work with mentors at private equity firms over several months to develop original investment theses and recommend execution strategies.

Application Deadline

The 2022 SPITC application deadline will be extended to Wednesday, January 19, 2022 by 10:00 a.m. CT due to the delayed start of the Winter Quarter.

Program phases

Phase I: November to early January
During Phase I, students have the opportunity to learn more about SPITC by attending the virtual info session on Monday, October 11, 2021. During the late autumn, students form teams (visit the SPITC Team-building Worksheet to find other Chicago Booth students interested in participating in the program) and draft their investment thesis proposal. Sample proposals are available for review from the Polsky Center upon request. Proposals are due via the online application in early January. Participating firms then review the proposals and select those they find most promising to continue to Phase II of the challenge. To get accepted into the program, a hosting private equity firm must select a teamís thesis proposal to advance and be willing to provide support and mentorship to further the idea. The number of teams that advance varies from year to year and depends on the interest of the participating firms. In SPITC 2021, 27 proposals were submitted and 12 teams were selected to advance.

Phase II: February to April
Teams whose proposals have been selected by host firms receive a budget of up to $2,500 to support detailed research efforts and assist them in further developing the thesis and execution strategy. Each team works with an assigned mentor at their host firm, whom they are expected to meet with on a regular basis and keep up-to-date on progress. Depending on how the project evolves, the team may request additional budget support from its host sponsor. Time is also scheduled during this phase for student teams to meet with faculty advisor Chris McGowan, adjunct professor of entrepreneurship and program advisor Duane Jackson, Polsky Center Investor-in-Residence, who provide coaching and presentation support.

Phase III: May
Each team submits its final investment thesis and execution strategy to its host firm by mid-May. Student teams formally present their proposal to members of the firmís partnership or investment committee. Firms offer the students constructive feedback and submit an evaluation form to the Polsky Center.


SPITC is open to current Chicago Booth students in the MBA program only. Prior experience in private equity is not needed to be considered.

Team Size and Makeup:
Recommended team size for SPITC is two to four students. Individual applicants will not be considered. Teams may include any mix of full-time and part-time students, as well as first-year and second-year students.
Contact With Host Firms:
Students may not contact any participating firms directly regarding their proposal or application status without the approval of the Polsky Center. Doing so is considered an ethical violation and may render a student ineligible for the challenge.
Recording SPITC Participation On The Resume:
Students may post participation in SPITC as a bullet on their resume; however, students may not list the research they complete as work experience for the host firm without seeking prior approval from the firm.