Directors of The Garage publish ‘Founded,’ a book for entrepreneurs


Photo courtesy of Melissa Kaufman

Mike Raab and Melissa Kaufman posing at The Garage with “Founded: The No B.S. Guide for Student Entrepreneurs,” their new book on entrepreneurship.

Moises Attie, Reporter

Since 2015, The Garage has inspired creators by opening its doors to entrepreneurs, becoming home to more than 1,000 student-founded initiatives. 

Looking to expand the resources available to student entrepreneurs, Melissa Kaufman, executive director of The Garage, and Associate Director Mike Raab (Communication ’12) wrote “Founded: The No B.S. Guide for Student Entrepreneurs.” The book breaks down the process of building a venture and provides readers with first steps. 

“We just want the book to get out there. We wrote it to solve our problem, which is to help Northwestern students get up to speed quickly,” Kaufman said. 

After advising students with their startups for almost seven years, Kaufman said she and Raab looked for a resource to familiarize new students with entrepreneurship, but they couldn’t find one that aligned with their ideas and experiences. 

Like any pair of entrepreneurs, Kaufman and Raab didn’t turn down a new challenge, deciding to create their own resource during the pandemic, ultimately publishing their book in January.

“We saw putting together this book as an opportunity to expand our reach of students that we can help,” Raab said. “(Now), any student across the country or world has access to this practical, tactical, easy-to-read resource when they have an idea.” 

Kaufman and Raab described the process of making the book as more of an entrepreneurial endeavor than a writing project. 

Just as they encourage their students to, Kaufman said the pair worked to find a problem space and reacted by writing something that people wanted. The duo also consulted experts and performed market research by talking to students to gauge their interests and previous knowledge about entrepreneurship. After three months of writing, the book was done. 

McCormick sophomore and Litterbox CEO Charlie Tanas said The Garage staff made his time “one of a kind,” when he created Litterbox, a startup that seeks to provide convenient and reliable storage for NU students

My experience in the startup world has been one of constant, unexpected obstacles, and the staff at The Garage have always been there to guide me,” Tanas said.

In January, Kaufman announced she will be leaving NU on May 15 and moving to Hawaii, where she will teach a high school entrepreneurship class and take some time to decide what comes next.

“This has been my absolute most favorite job and one of my proudest professional accomplishments,” Kaufman said. “I get so much joy from the students and seeing them succeed.”

NU announced it has formed a search committee to find a new executive director for The Garage in a news release. In the meantime, Raab will be serving as the interim director.

Raab said, as an NU alum, he is a passionate community-builder, and that has been his mission at The Garage since the beginning.

“I’m honored and excited to continue the traditions (Kaufman) has built, focusing on serving our students first,” Raab said.

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Twitter: @moiattie

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