What is The Garage?


We fuel transformation.

We are the heart of innovation, imagination, and collaboration at Northwestern.

We bring together a cross-disciplinary community of students, faculty, staff, and alumni who all share a passion for building new ideas. The 11,000 square foot space, carved out of the North Campus parking structure, is home to any Northwestern student building their ideas into reality. At the core, The Garage is startup central at Northwestern. We are a community, space, and network of resources for every Northwestern student to learn, iterate, and grow.

“Being around students who have crazy ideas on how to make the world better – and seeing them go for it – is inspiring and an amazing environment to be in.”
John Franklin, McCormick ’18

Software Engineer at Google in San Francisco
“The Garage by far was the greatest factor in facilitating my personal growth while at Northwestern.”
Jacob Morgan, McCormick ’18

Co-founder of Unruled. + Jr. Product Design Engineer at The Catch Company in Chicago
“Just having a space like The Garage encouraged me to pursue entrepreneurship in my free time which then turned into my first job out of college.”
Ross Krasner, Medill ’18

CEO at Ryu Blockchain Technologies, Inc. in San Francisco
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OUR MANIFESTO


WE EMPOWER ENTREPRENEURS WITH WISDOM AND PROGRAMMING TO BUILD SKILLS AROUND CO-CREATION, LEADERSHIP, AND NETWORKING TO MOTIVATE THEM TO BUILD A FUTURE ALL THEIR OWN.

We live by the following three pillars.

TRUST YOURSELF

We believe your inherent gifts, wisdom, and strength are already within you. We inspire real power to trust yourself.

DO THE WORK

We nourish the foundational elements of leadership. We invigorate the core of one’s potential to lead with integrity and nurture the ability to be accountable and responsible to ourselves and others.

FORGE YOUR OWN PATH

Live your purpose. Step into your truth. This is your time to champion the wins and failures that shape you for the better. We believe that leadership crafted with intention, compassion, playfulness, and a drive to improve our world is the new frontier.

By the Numbers

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Startups
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Mentors + Experts
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Visitors/Month

FAQs

The Garage is a physical space and network of resources for Northwestern students interested in entrepreneurship. Over 1,000 students, faculty, and staff visit The Garage each month for classes, office hours, events, and workshops.

The Garage is for all degree seeking, full-time Northwestern students, undergraduate and graduate, from across all 12 schools of Northwestern. The Garage operates various programs, from incubation programs to fellowships.

If you are a Northwestern student interested in getting involved with The Garage, you can: 

  • The Garage also holds frequent events on innovation and entrepreneurship. Visit our events page for an updated calendar.
  • Sign up for Office Hours with a peer or alumni to discuss your idea and get help.
  • Join The Garage family and sign up for our monthly newsletter.

Students with an idea or project can apply to be in The Garage Tinker Program during the academic year. Learn more about our programs here.

The Tinker program is an opportunity for Northwestern students to explore The Garage, and our resources, at their own pace. The program is open to current, degree seeking, full-time Northwestern students. The Tinker Program application is open during the entire academic year, with students admitted on an ongoing basis. All students who wish to apply to The Residency Program must spend one full academic quarter as a Tinkerer first.

The Garage Residency Program is an opportunity for student teams, both undergraduate and graduate, from across all 12 schools of Northwestern to be a core member of The Garage’s entrepreneurial community. Resident Teams use The Garage as their office and receive special perks including 24/7 access, a weekly Family Dinner, a mentor, and priority for Office Hours.

The Garage opened in June 2015 and Academic Year 2015-16 was our first year in operation.

Tinkerers are selected on an ongoing basis during the academic year. 

Resident Teams are selected on a quarterly basis. Sign up for our newsletter to find out when applications open.

Validation. Our students are past the ideation phase and are actively seeking product-market fit for their startups. Teams reaching the growth phase will graduate from The Garage, and we help them find funding, office space, accelerator programs and general support to grow their ventures.

Resident Teams are selected on three main criteria: 

  1. A team (which we will overlook if the other two requirements are strong)
  2. Traction (you’ve moved beyond the ideation phase: You’ve taken a class, interviewed customers, built a prototype, etc.)
  3. A recommendation. (Recommendations can come from a faculty/staff member, a student group leader, or a current Resident at The Garage who can speak to your progress and your commitment to working on your idea.)

Resident Teams build companies and products that are for-profit or not-for-profit, hardware or software, commercial products or artistic endeavors—anything bringing a new idea to fruition is welcome.

Family Dinner is a weekly dinner and event for students in our Residency Program to discuss their successes and failures and get to know one another outside of their startup ventures. Each week, we are joined by an accomplished founder, technologist or investor who shares his/her founder story and startup wisdom.

As long as you are a current student at Northwestern and your startup is making progress towards finding product-market fit. Current Resident Teams are required to reapply each quarter to show progress.

We encourage students to seek non-dilutive capital through competitions, crowdfunding, and university programs. For example, VentureCat, Northwestern’s annual student startup competition, awards more than $300,000 in non-dilutive prize money annually. Other programs, like the Zell Scholarship, are available to Kellogg students. Teams that achieve product-market fit are eligible to apply for NUseeds, Northwestern’s seed fund for student startups, which writes checks for equity in the $10,000 to $100,000 range.

The Wildfire Pre-Accelerator at The Garage aims to develop students as both leaders and founders by introducing new ways of thinking and problem solving. The 10-week summer program culminates with a Demo Day/Shark Tank experience in which students pitch their proposal and gain feedback from established judges. This is a program designed to help early stage ventures learn, grow and overcome obstacles preventing the launch of their venture.

The Garage is funded by private donations from individuals, families, and foundations that are passionate about supporting entrepreneurship and innovation at Northwestern as well as the Office of the Provost.

The Makerspace is equipped with Formlabs Form 2 3D printers, Makerbot replicators, woodworking equipment, laser cutters, an electronics workbench, CAD software, a Virtual Reality Lab featuring the Oculus Rift, Microsoft HoloLens and HTC Vive and much more.

Our maker equipment is for Residents working on physical products to work on their prototypes. Residents that are not familiar with using the equipment should attend during staffed hours.

Due to COVID-19, The Garage’s physical space is currently closed to students and our operations have moved online.

Take a Look Under the Hood

Questions?

Email us at thegarage@northwestern.edu