Virtual matchmaking event at The Garage connects students to Northwestern-based startups

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Daily file photo by Lauren Duquette

The Garage start-up space where in-person matchmaking would occur.

Alex Perry, Assistant Campus Editor

Representatives of 20 startups delivered minute-long elevator pitches in a Thursday matchmaking event hosted by The Garage, allowing students interested in entrepreneurship to interact with Northwestern-based companies. 

The Garage is home to many student-founded organizations that belong to two tiers — Residency and the Tinker programs. The Tinker program is for students in the ideation phase, while the Residency offers more access to The Garage’s resources. 

Melissa Kaufman, The Garage’s executive director, introduced the event as an opportunity for student startups in The Garage to find teammates. 

“We’ve tried a number of different formats for connecting students.” Kaufman said. “Everything from a website to putting stuff on the fridge in The Garage, and we found that this format works really, really well.”

McCormick sophomore Charlotte Oxnam attended the event to recruit app developers and marketing personnel. Her startup, Cue the Curves, is a directory-turned-online-forum for plus size women to connect over shared experiences and product reviews. 

Through The Garage, Oxnam said her startup was able to see success, winning first place at Chicago Startup Week’s Pitch Competition, along with a reward of six months of office space, a stipend for legal fees and a cash prize. Oxnam is now looking to grow the startup’s online presence and use the win’s momentum to take on developers to build a mobile version of the forum.

“It started as a directory,” Oxnam said. “It’s really a gift to my younger self.” 

Kellogg graduate student Karen Desai’s work in The Garage also centers on the fashion industry. At the event, Desai spoke about how her company, LUKH, is focused on making Indian fashion more accessible in the U.S. 

Desai said LUKH provides cultural Indian clothing for people attending Indian weddings or festivals. Her website also provides background information about the days-long event, such as what colors are appropriate to wear and what clothing is suitable for which activities that are expected during different parts of an Indian wedding. 

“Think Rent the Runway, but for Indian clothes,” Desai said. 

Medill junior Eden Hirschfield came to the event to promote Indigo Social Club, which is offering several internships from marketing to legal research to business partnerships.  

Hirschfield, a member of the launch team, said Indigo Social Club is an Evanston-based service that combines nightlife with a pop-up shop concept using existing venues.  

Hirschfield said venues such as Prairie Moon, Todoroki and Bat 17 have already agreed to host social events in the fall. 

“Instead of just opening a bar from scratch, we realize that there are lots of cool spaces in Evanston that can serve as nightlife venues that don’t have anyone to plan events or reach the Northwestern community,” Hirschfield said.

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Twitter: @WhoIsAlexPerry

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