Groups To Join Forces To Aid Entrepreneurs

The Daily Northwestern

Two student-run companies are expected to announce their merger into a new division that company leaders hope will more effectively help students who want to launch new businesses.

If approved at the first meeting of its board of directors today, NUcorp, an organization that sponsors Northwestern student entrepreneurs, will merge with the Institute for Student Business Education’s Launchpad division to form a new company called Northwestern Student Holdings.

Executives from ISBE and its Launchpad division, which also advises student entrepreneurs, will take over management of NUcorp’s two current businesses, NU Tutors and Chicago Unzipped, a student guidebook to the city.

Sean Caffery, the combined company’s chief executive officer, said the new company will work as a division of ISBE to create a profitable and growing group of companies to employ students.

“What we’re trying to create here is essentially jobs,” the Weinberg junior said. “It’s like having an internship during the school year.”

Matt Dabrowski, the new company’s chief financial officer, said Chicago Unzipped was able to publish only one edition under the old management. The new management hopes to have another edition out by the beginning of June.

“Before there was no set process,” the McCormick sophomore said. “There was a good writing staff system, they had that down. What we could improve on is sales and management with defined roles.”

Caffery said the idea of combining creative content with a well-run business is not only central to the merger, but also central to the future of the new company.

“The whole point of all of this is to do something that bridges the gaps between the different schools in the university,” Caffery said. “We’re taking the writers from Medill to produce content, bringing in engineers, working with RTVF kids that work on NU Channel One. That’s our purpose, to bridge that gap and make it sustainable.”

One goal for the new company is to put more of the profits back in the hands of the student employees. Caffery saidto do so the company’s official status may need to change. NUcorp is registered as a not-for-profit business. Nearly half the profits from the new organization will be invested in ISBE’s Financial Services Group, which already handles roughly $30,000 worth of investments.

The new company plans to help launch more student businesses. Chief Operating Officer Chad Frontz said the first new project could launch as early as the fall. In addition, the Weinberg sophomore said the company hopes to add a charitable organization in the future.

One source for new business ideas will be the InNUvation NU Venture Challenge, a universitywide entrepreneurship competition for students looking to turn their business plans into realities.

“We’re open to new ideas, but right now we have our hands full,” Frontz said. “As early as next year through, we’re definitely interested.”

Reach Matt Radler at [email protected]