Daily file photo by Lauren Duquette
The Garage, which serves as a matchmaker between NU-based startups and students interested in entrepreneurship, hosted its most recent networking event this Tuesday at Segal Visitors Center.
The University’s business incubator presented 14 student-founded startups with around 50 people in attendance. The Garage has been holding these events every quarter since 2017.
While most Garage events are held at its North campus location, it migrates once a year to recruit students studying humanities.
The matchmaking event started when students involved in Garage startups asked to collaborate with students with diverse skills, said Elisabeth Wright, The Garage’s marketing manager. She said she also started receiving requests from students interested in entrepreneurship who had no ideas, but wanted to gain experience by joining an existing group.
“We thought, ‘How about we just put both of those groups of people in the same room for an hour and give them dinner?’” Wright said.
Each startup founder pitched their business ideas before they mingled with potential team members. Startups included Kago Kitchen, creator of superfood jerkies and City Health Tech, which develops wireless sink attachments to encourage handwashing in elementary schools.
Naomi Pieczulewski, a McCormick junior and member of MakerGirl, an educational nonprofit that teaches 3D-printing to young girls, said she came to the event to look for volunteers with experience in media and marketing.
“We’re looking for people interested in our mission,” Pieczulewski said. “As a bunch of us are engineers and scientists, we’re not really used to the (marketing) side. We’re trying to recruit more diverse groups.”
The nonprofit, which collaborates with schools and youth community partners in Chicago, plans to expand its outreach through its location in Evanston. The startup is planning to host more off-campus STEM sessions to make events more accessible, Pieczulewski said.
Wes Jiao, a McCormick sophomore, said he was already involved with programs at The Garage without working in an existing startup, but was compelled to attend the event as he knew many of the startup founders from traveling to San Francisco with The Garage.
“It’s interesting to see ideas that my peers and Kellogg students are working on,” Jiao said.
“I am mostly looking to hear insight and general ideas.”
While he said he wasn’t looking to join a startup, Jiao said he is doing research to create a company that generates an aggregation program for people to personalize and give better gifts. He said he was interested in seeing other people’s ideas and networking with existing startup founders while developing his own product.
Indira Ramos — a graduate student studying communications and co-founder of Mentee, a web service connecting mentors to high schoolers during college applications — said the startup was in the process of developing an app.
“I’m really excited to build a community that people find reliable, raw and honest for high schoolers,” Ramos said. “We know how stressful (college applications) can be.”
To develop an app, she said, Mentee needs supporters as well as developers and students with experience in finance.
Wright said events like The Garage’s matchmaking session are necessary as student entrepreneurs can easily find eager collaborators without hiring from outside of Northwestern.
“It’s great that rather than hire somebody to do that, they can tap into the pool of talent that already exists at Northwestern,” Wright said. “It makes The Garage already more diverse.”
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