Northwestern Student Holdings removes businesses from portfolio, focuses on quality over quantity

Emily Chin, Reporter

Northwestern Student Holdings has cut nearly half the businesses it manages this year after restructuring its leadership.

The new leaders made major changes to ensure resources were being properly used, said Mark Werwath, the group’s faculty adviser.

“We wanted to have businesses that were able to grow, businesses that had viability both on and off campus,” the McCormick professor said. “We realized we had spread ourselves too thin and had grown too fast. It was time to consolidate.”

At the beginning of this academic year, NSH, a student-run company that funds and manages businesses geared toward the Northwestern and Evanston communities, had seven companies in its portfolio. The group has since discontinued two of the companies, AirHop, a service that brought students to and from the airport, and Wildcat Express Delivery, a campus catering service. Project Cookie, which sold fresh-baked cookies to students late at night, has been put on hold.

“A lot of people really liked the idea that Project Cookie exists, but no one actually purchased the cookies,” said Connor Regan, NSH’s vice president of business operations and former co-CEO of Project Cookie. “It was hard decision-making and it’s really good business experience to have to make those tough calls.”

Regan, a SESP junior, is a former Daily columnist and a former board member of Students Publishing Co., The Daily’s parent organization.

Priya Kumar, NSH’s CEO, said the changes were necessary so the group could focus more on the four businesses they have, rather than trying to juggle many different ones. The group looked at each of the businesses in its portfolio and asked whether they would be worth continuing based on potential.

“Our mission is to build strong businesses that really add value to the people we serve,” the Weinberg junior said. “We were looking at the current portfolio and we were starting to ask the kind of difficult questions we didn’t want to ask before. ‘Wait a second, let’s pause this train.’ Is what we’re doing really good for ourselves?”

The group currently runs DesignWorks, which provides graphic design assistance to businesses, RezEssentials, which provides easy sale of necessary residential items, BoxCo., a storing and shipping service, and NU|Tutors, a tutoring service for local high school students.

Kumar said she hopes the changes will allow NSH to add more companies to their portfolio in the future.

“I’m sure there was talk about ‘Why did some of the companies close?’, and ‘What is their plan?’ and ‘Do they have a plan?’” she said. “We haven’t been as big of a presence on campus this year, but we really hope that for the next 10-20 years, and even the next 100 years, to be a very strong presence on campus.”

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