Resident Spotlight: PAL

Approximately 1 in 59 children have autism spectrum disorder, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network.

Children on the autism spectrum may suffer from meltdowns. But Products for Autism Lifestyle (PAL), a subsidiary for Gaia Wearables, is creating smart clothes that monitor biometrics and transmit data to an app that alerts caregivers of early signs of meltdowns.

The Garage sat down with PAL co-founder Brent Chase to learn how PAL aims to change lives, one shirt at a time.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

How does PAL work?

It’s pretty well documented that you can identify different states of [physiological] being. The most movie-esque version of this is the lie detection tests. There’s other ones that look more toward how you quantify people with depression or people with other nonverbal disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder.

The idea behind [PAL] is a smart shirt that measures all of these physiological data. It’s all connected to this core unit that’s on the shirt that can be detachable. Wash the shirt, you’re good to go. It gathers the data [and] sends it to a mobile app. So if you’re a parent, caregiver, therapist [or] teacher, [you] can see what the [child’s] emotional state is, and then help them develop to this more independent state.

What’s your inspiration?

[My brother] grew up for the past 22 years having autism spectrum disorder. It’s very hard for him. It was hard on the family.

So the real inspiration behind [PAL] was I saw how hard it was for my brother just to live day-to-day. He would wake up and potentially have a meltdown, which is harmful for him…harmful for everyone. It limits his ability to continuously develop into this more independent state. Right now he’s 22 and lives with our mother. He can’t necessarily pick up a job because of these meltdowns.

Me and my mother can [understand his states]. We have been living with him for years now, and we know the little triggers and what to do to either proactively avoid or stop them when they occur. If he can go to an employer and the employer has access to something that would let them know when he’s at risk of a meltdown, then they can better manage him or help him better control everything.

This was a common thing we were seeing. Everyone kept saying they wanted their child to be more independent. If you can give the people the technology, then they can end up developing it into what they need for that independence.

How has The Garage helped?

The name carries a lot of weight for us to get connected, not only within the institution, but also [within] the general community.

[The Garage] also helps us with getting more people on the team. The beauty of what we have is none of this would be possible without the commitment of all the team members.

What do you want to add?

I feel like a big thing in entrepreneurship is this rush to get something out there and start making money, but in reality, if we all just keep focusing on the money, then no one is going to create any real innovation or change any lives. So [PAL] spent more time in this incubation period focusing more on how can this solution actually benefit the people.

PAL’s product will be released in January 2020. Interested in getting involved? PAL is looking for people to join their human study. Participants wear a wristwatch that monitors biometrics for 20 minutes, and then they have the chance to win 50 dollars.

Here is the link to add yourself to the future studies list.

Here is the link to add your availability for user testing at Northwestern University’s Evanston campus.

Children on the autism spectrum and caretakers are also encouraged to reach out to PAL at gaiawearables@gmail.com. Anyone interested in getting involved can visit gaiawearables.com and click “Get Involved.”


Megan Lebowitz is a freshman majoring in journalism. She is a reporter for Northwestern News Network and loves storytelling in all forms. She is from Cleveland, Ohio.

Propel 2019

A recent study conducted by researchers at Northwestern University and the University of Notre Dame found that women who maintain a close inner circle of other female friends are more likely to attain high-ranking leadership positions. Yang Yang, a research assistant professor at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management and co-author of the study, says that “such an inner circle can provide trustworthy, gender-relevant information about job cultures and social support, which are very important to women in male-dominated settings.” In other words, successful women surround themselves with other successful women.

That’s exactly the ethos of The Propel Program, an initiative launched by The Garage to foster diversity and inclusion in entrepreneurship at Northwestern. Propel was made possible with the generous support of Steve Elms ‘92 MBA, and his wife, Katherine Elms, in partnership with the Innovation and New Ventures Office (INVO). Under the guidance of Melissa Kaufman, executive director of The Garage, and Hayes Ferguson, associate director of The Garage, the Propel Program offers budding women entrepreneurs at Northwestern access to networking, mentorship, and immersive learning experiences, in addition to stipends to support their entrepreneurial projects.

Through the program, Propellers are able to connect with a network of Propel mentors, a group of ten female entrepreneurs with experience from a variety of industry backgrounds, from angel investing to hedge fund managing to bookselling—including two former Garage residents. Later in the year, Propellers will meet all together to trade notes on their project trajectories, and in June, they’ll share what they’ve been working on at a showcase open to the Northwestern community.

Yasmeena Faycurry, McCormick ‘22, says she’s excited about being a part of the Propel Program because it’s an incredibly unique resource. “I’m excited to have a community of women I can learn from, and I’m especially excited to work with a mentor, because it’s hard to find somebody who will help you no matter what.” Yuki Solomon, School of Communication ‘19, is working on a documentary film series about Chicago, and echoes the same excitement about the Propel community. She loves that “The Garage [is] innovative, progressive and dedicated to the power of sharing new ideas for the community and for the future.”

In Propel’s inaugural 2019 class, there are 24 students from a range of Northwestern undergraduate and graduate programs, from freshman engineers to second-year MBAs. Propel women are working on a diverse set of projects, VR technology, sustainable apparel manufacturing, and a CBD beverage company.

Get to know our 2019 Propel class and a snippet about their projects below:

 

Kimmie Carey, Kellogg ‘19

Her project: the dose co. is a functional food and beverage company dedicated to improving your well-being.

 

Cheyenne Cazaubon, Pritzker ‘19

Her project: A career profile website elevating millennial women in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, & Mathematics).


Nicole Dannehower, Kellogg ‘19

Her project: Mineral SPF aims to provide affordable, high quality sun protection delivered direct to consumer, and including education on when, how, and why to apply.

 

Sophie Davis, Weinberg ‘21

Her project (with Tarushi Sharma): to make waking up more refreshing experience through Lux, an IoT device that customizes a bright light sunrise to your sleep cycles.

 

Yasmeena Faycurry, McCormick ‘22

Her project: eliminating distance with VR technology.

 

Anim Haroon, Kellogg ‘20

Her project: to create a platform for teenage girls to find resources and mentorship.

 

Maja Ivanovic, Feinberg ‘20

Her project: to create an interactive course for health care students which focuses on business in medicine.


Cassidy Jackson, Medill ‘21

Her project: a podcast called “5-Minutes of Passion” that works to give listeners quick doses of passion from young adults just like them.


Isabella Jiao, Medill ‘19

Her project: Wearever curates and delivers clothing rental services to travelers who are unable to pack/source everything they want and need for a trip.


Emily Kvitko, Medill ‘19

Her project: Onesie, a digital magazine and app that features videos, photos and interactive stories on baby and toddler fashion and celebrates children up to age five for their creativity, curiosity and free spirits.


Ruge (Star) Li, Medill ‘19

Her project (with Zoey Qianren): C-art is a video content platform that makes art more accessible and fun by providing 1-3 minute educational and interactive videos about artwork.


Amie Liu, Kellogg ‘19

Her project: MyVillage is an app that helps parents streamline asking for help when the unexpected pops up.


Rachele Louis, Kellogg ‘19

Her project: LifeWeb, a social memory platform for collecting memories from your loved one’s community to create a 360 view of life after they’ve passed away, and to connect those who knew them in different ways.

 

Alice Lu, Pritzker ‘19

Her project: an incubator to develop a tailored training on Trauma-Informed Care (TIC) for law schools and legal clinics to contribute legal expertise towards the national conversation on TIC.


Regina Morfin, McCormick ‘21

Her project (with Avantika Raikar): facilitate the use of sustainable manufacturing processes in large scale apparel production.


Cara Morphew, Kellogg ‘19

Her project: BeenThere is a career prep and higher education application marketplace that connects applicants to current MBAs for detailed guidance and advice.


Aimee Ortega, School of Communication ‘20

Her project: Aimee Elise Sewing Studio, a contemporary space to learn and engage in the creative practice of sewing while building community along the way.


Zhao (Zoey) Qianren, Medill ‘19

Her project (with Star Li): C-art is a video content platform that makes art more accessible and fun by providing 1-3 minute educational and interactive videos about artwork.

 

Avantika Raikar, McCormick ‘22

Her project (with Regina Morfin): facilitate the use of sustainable manufacturing processes in large scale apparel production.


Elaine Ramirez, Medill ‘19

Her project: Prodos builds trust in blockchain technology through data-driven content and insights for business leaders.


Tess Russell, McCormick ‘20

Her project: provide a platform to help people recycle goods they never thought were recyclable and to make it easy to find recycling companies and locations for all types of products.


Tarushi Sharma, Weinberg ‘19

Her project (with Sophie Davis): to make waking up more refreshing experience through Lux, an IoT device that customizes a bright light sunrise to your sleep cycles.


Yuki Solomon, School of Communication ‘19

Her project: a documentary film series that captures the personal and public life of inspiring female figures here in the Windy City. Shot on an iPhone.


Colleen Zewe, Medill ‘19

Her project: a podcast about women’s health so that they will have information they need to feel empowered and in-charge of their own health and well-being.

Resident Spotlight: The Melodi House

As face-to-face interaction becomes increasingly rare, Selin Yazici, Alex Halimi and Arno Murcia set out to change how people engage with each other.

The Melodi House entered The Garage in the fall of 2018 after the three co-founders conceived the idea in an entrepreneurship class. The founders are hoping to start more conversations by planning events and, eventually, creating a physical space for people to develop their passions in areas such as art and music. Their mission statement is, “The Melodi House aims at creating the events, conversations, and relationships we came to college to experience and form.”

Their fall quarter event, held at an apartment, featured music, student art and excellent conversation. It had about 70 people at its height. The Melodi House hopes to host three events this quarter. Be on the lookout!

This interview has been edited and condensed.

 

On the idea behind ‘The Melodi House’

Selin: It’s a very conceptual idea. It’s nothing really physical. We’re coming together, creating this community that aims [to put] the moments, relationships and events we all come to college to experience.

Alex: Our mission is [to] expose students to new sensations or things that are different that they’re be talking about later.

Selin: There [are] millions of interesting topics and conversations just waiting to be started. We saw this missed opportunity, because as students, [these] are the only four years [when] we’re going to be in such a concentrated environment. Why not take advantage of it?

Alex: We’re all very happy we pursued [working at] The Garage. [It] is super helpful with mentoring us. It also helps keep us on track and focus on what we actually have to do. We’re happy to be here.

On their fall quarter event

Arno: We created this event where we asked everyone to submit a piece of art. We delivered canvases. We asked them to submit something they had already done, or make something.

Selin: We realized life gets in the way, and you usually don’t get to do what you really want to do. So we’re like, “We’re delivering it to you. Do whatever you want. We’ll pick them up and we’re going to display them at the event.” [It’s] a great conversation starter.

Arno: We saw people stop and converse next to a piece of art and start this more interesting, personal conversation.

Selin: We had the art, and then we had students who are passionate about music DJing and playing their music.

Alex: What I thought was cool about the event was that we did it donation based. The only rule was you had to pay. It didn’t matter how much it was; you just had to donate something. It was very successful. We definitely reached the amount we needed.

Arno: It’s a way to allow everyone to have access to our community, regardless of their financial status.

Selin: People were engaging so beautifully with each other. We got feedback, and a lot of the things in common were, “Thank you so much for this experience. We can’t wait for the rest of it.”

Arno: The first thing [a friend] told me was, “I met a really cool person I don’t think I would have met otherwise.” That was originally our goal.

On the name

Selin: No matter what language you speak [or] where you’re from, everyone speaks the language of art, culture, music and melody. Bringing this all together, it’s like, why don’t we call it [melody] and spell it with an “i” instead [to] be more creative.


Megan Lebowitz is a freshman majoring in journalism. She is a reporter for Northwestern News Network and loves storytelling in all forms. She is from Cleveland, Ohio.

The Garage Goes to LA: LJV Field Trip Recap

As a snowstorm headed to campus on the eve of the Martin Luther King Day weekend, a crew from The Garage traveled to sunny Los Angeles for a weekend of entrepreneurial inspiration that included lunch with Gwyneth Paltrow and a tour of SpaceX.

The trip was part of the Little Joe Ventures Fellowship, a new program at Northwestern that promotes undergraduate entrepreneurship. Funded by alumnus Tony Owen and his wife, Monique, five fellowships are awarded to sophomores each year. As part of the program, launched last year, students receive mentorship, stipends and special experiences including the curated LA trip.

LJV’s include (L to R) Vishaal Mali, McCormick ’20, Audrey Valbuena, Medill ’20, Sam Kim, Weinberg ’20, Rachel Cantor, SoC ’20, and Drake Weismann, Weinberg ’20

Our group of students, along with staffers Melissa Kaufman, Executive Director and Hayes Ferguson, Associate Director, arrived Thursday night at the Venice Beach Airbnb we’d call home for three days.

We kicked off Friday with the visit to SpaceX, the company Elon Musk founded to revolutionize space technology. You know you’re at a different kind of company when there’s a Falcon 9 rocket and a tower for the Boring Company’s tunnel in the parking lot.

The inside the building resembles a futuristic Willy Wonka factory. Mission control is immediately to the right. Parts of rockets that have returned from space are mounted to the ceiling. Our tour took us across the floor where technicians are building rockets. Almost every employee was wearing a piece of SpaceX swag, a nod to their strong, mission-driven culture.

Our second stop was goop, a lifestyle brand founded by actor/entrepreneur Gwyneth Paltrow. goop’s 275 employees are headquartered in Santa Monica in a cluster of nondescript, repurposed chicken coops. There’s no sign out front. Inside, the office — renovated by Restoration Hardware to give it a rustic, low-effort charm — buzzes with millenials. Some were typing furiously on Macs, others focused on a photoshoot of food and kitchenware.

Several executives joined us for lunch, describing their personal career paths and the evolution and goals of goop. Paltrow herself — or GP, as her staff calls her — was down to earth and accessible. She talked about her shift from acting to entrepreneurship — she said she’d always been an avid reader of The New York Times business section — and the challenges that come with running a company. She acknowledged “making a ton of mistakes” and learning from them, and reflected on the difficulty of navigating a startup through different stages as it grows from a family to a village to a city.

Our third and final stop of the day was at UTA (United Talent Agency). We heard from employees who had recently interned in the infamous “Mailroom,” a rite of passage for aspiring agents that involves menial tasks like sorting mail and fetching coffee. We also met with their Chief Innovation Officer, who described his experience as an intrapreneur.

The evening ended with an interactive cooking experience at the Airbnb led by a professional chef who is an entrepreneur herself. Lilia from Ella A Cooking, a UCLA graduate who left her job as an engineer to start her own cooking business a decade ago, shared lots of cooking tips including the proper way to dice an onion, how to roll pasta by hand, and how to make the sugar crust on creme brulee. (Hint: We used a blowtorch.)

The fellows gathered Saturday morning at Tony Owen’s sleek El Segundo office, which doubles as a showroom for his collection of antique cars. After hearing the stories behind the cars — including one of the first Tesla roadsters and a brand new Porsche 911 GT2 RS — we sat down for a series of conversations with three accomplished entrepreneurs: Matt Jacobson, Sam Prince, and Ami Dror.

The eighth employee at Facebook, Matt talked about the importance of visual imagery for creating culture; having hard conversations; and journaling. He shared his personal mantra —  “Be the best part of someone else’s day” — and said that “the thing that screws you up most in life is the story in your head of how it’s supposed to be.”

Sam, a medical doctor who started Zambrero, an Australia-based chain of casual Mexican restaurants, talked about entrepreneurship as an activity that anyone can pursue. He reflected on his own journey as the son of Sri Lankan immigrants and talked about “courage in the face of uncertainty.” He also quoted Stephen Spielberg: “Intuition whispers in your ear, it rarely yells.”

Ami, a serial entrepreneur who served in the Israeli Secret Service early in his career, stressed the importance of being okay with failure. So much so that he encouraged the fellows to learn to fail and “become the biggest loser.” His point: If you fail, you just move on and try again. In his experience, the first product rarely worked and, on average, it was the third iteration that was a success. He offered two tips: 1. money cannot be the goal, 2. seek a mission-driven organization.

Following lunch, we strolled through Venice Beach and prepared for dinner with an impressive roster of alumni at Scopa. Among the Wildcats in attendance were Zico Coconut Water co-founder Maura Rampolla; executive recruiter Julie Puckett; and trustees Lynn Hopton and David Sachs. The networking and bonding was so much fun that no one wanted to leave!

To free up our two large tables for another group of diners, we finally wrapped things up and headed home to the Airbnb. The next morning, after a breakfast of bagels, yogurt and fruit, we headed to LAX for the flight back to snowy Chicago. The only hitch we encountered while traveling came as we went through security. Student after student was stopped so TSA agents could inspect their bags. The suspicious materials? The  Salt Detox Bath Soak given to us by the folks at goop!

Resident Spotlight: Connect & Care

After wrapping the chaos that is the holiday shopping season, Matt Zients, Connect & Care co-founder and SESP junior, was focused on giving, not getting.

Connect & Care started as an idea in an after-school program for high schoolers. Now, it is a registered nonprofit in D.C. and has partners all around the globe.

Want to donate but don’t know where to start? The Garage sat down with Zients to learn how Connect & Care helps users improve the world at the tap of a button.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

On the app

Matt Zients: The current app [for Connect & Care] allows users to browse, learn about and donate to nonprofits around the world. There’s a map. You see different pins on the map, and you can click on one of the pins, and that would be one of our partners. You can see their mission, their team, their vision [and] history. There’s a donate button that allows you to [donate] through Apple Pay and Stripe.

We have 25 partners. We split them into nine categories: community building, conflict relief, education, environmental issues, healthcare, human rights, indigenous rights, veterans and women’s advancement. They’re all pretty grassroots.

On new developments 

MZ: We’re really excited by the idea of a Buzzfeed quiz medium. We built out a Google form where you answer a couple fun questions. You pick your favorite meme out of a group of four memes. You tell us which Disney character you’re most excited about. But then you also tell us which areas of interest you have. Is it education? Is it healthcare? Is it conflict relief? We then send you your top three matches amongst our partners.

This winter, we’re going to be focusing on how we can do a local version of what we’re doing. Right now, it probably looks like a quiz. Instead of “What nonprofit are you?” this would be like, “What Chicago nonprofit are you?” It wouldn’t be all about the donating. It would be about how you get involved and help out.

On inspiration 

MZ: We’re excited by the idea of, how do you prove to a young person that it’s cool to be connected to a nonprofit, and can technology play a role in that? We’re convinced that we can make it cool, but now we’re testing out different hooks.

It really drives me to figure out how Connect & Care [can] be relevant in this field and push the conversation. I also was inspired by a specific moment on campus. I was at a protest against the travel ban. At the protest someone was holding a sign that said, “Venmo [his name], and the money will go to the ACLU.” And I was thinking, there’s got to be a more direct way for this to happen.

On The Garage

MZ: I love raving about The Garage. The team here is super strong and super thoughtful. I’ve loved the family dinners. That’s been a great experience in terms of meeting new people. This cohort of residents is awesome. I really think this space is special and has been a huge part of my Northwestern experience so far.

On the giving season

MZ: It doesn’t always have to be about the money. It can be about giving your attention, giving your advocacy or giving your volunteering time. The holiday season is a great time to support and love those around you, but [you] also have to think beyond that a little bit. It doesn’t have to be financial or monetary. [Think] about how you can give to people you don’t know. That’s something we’re thinking about: How can we be relevant beyond monetary donations?

For more information, and to download Connect & Care, click here


Megan Lebowitz is a freshman majoring in journalism. She is a reporter for Northwestern News Network and loves storytelling in all forms. She is from Cleveland, Ohio.

Family Dinner: Kristi Ross

Welcome back, Wildcats!

As if the start of a new quarter wasn’t exciting enough, the start of a new year brings all new possibilities for entrepreneurial minds. Earlier this week, The Garage hosted our first family dinner of the winter quarter. On Wednesday, January 9, The Workspace was filled with current Residents, as well as a fresh batch of new faces ready to take their project to the next level. The dinner opened with our standard discussion of successes and failure followed by general housekeeping.

It was only fitting that the speaker to kick off the new quarter was dough Inc. CEO, Kristi Ross. As she took the “stage” her energy and passion was apparent. A self-made business leader with a diverse background in the financial trade industry, as well as media development. In developing TastyTrade, Kristi said her team wanted to focus on sharing trading information that was not only informative, but fun to listen to. Throughout the talk she referred back to her storied career, starting first as a CFO at the age of 25 and running the gamut of the financial industry. She elaborated the importance of accepting and expecting failure and how to react in those moments, noting that what you learn is incredibly important.

Kristi highlighted that as an entrepreneur, perhaps the most importance advice she could give was to, “Just Do It.” Yes, Nike’s famous slogan that promotes the sales of millions of shoes can be tied directly to entrepreneurship. If you have an idea, don’t be afraid to take it to the next level. Simply put, don’t fear failure, just do it, and if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.

She closed with her dynamic approach to innovation, giving listeners her “Five Rules for Being a Better Entrepreneur.” Kristi’s talk left those in attendance energized and ready to move forward with their endeavors.

Good luck Residents and have a great quarter!

The Garage Gift Guide 2018

The holidays are here again, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise that in this year’s 2018 gift guide, we’re supporting Northwestern entrepreneurs and student founded startups. Here’s a list of some of our favorite gift ideas for your besties and your fam, including both current student founded products and companies, alongside some of the best of the best Northwestern alumni companies.

We’ve got something for everyone, from cold brew coffee to the easiest way to give back to causes that matter most to you, all Garage-approved.   

 

1. Something local through BOSSY Chicago or some BOSSY merch

(Photo Credit: BOSSY Chicago)

Co-founded by Northwestern students Samantha Letscher (McCormick, ‘18) and Isabel Benatar (SESP, ‘18), BOSSY Chicago is still going strong after the co-founders graduated in 2018. BOSSY is empowering women business owners and encouraging us all to not only shop local, but to support women owned businesses through their online directory. They’re also storytellers, sharing the entrepreneurial wisdom and challenges of female entrepreneurs all over Chicago. You can also keep up with all things BOSSY, and even rep their merch! 

 

2. Some yummy cold brew

Image of Lucas Philips

Now with two campus locations and the infamous coffee bike, BrewBike has only grown in the last year. They’ve even launching their second campus in UT Austin! Founded by Lucas Philips (SESP, ‘19), BrewBike has mastered cold brew coffee, and we think it’s time you try some for yourself. Now, you can give the gift of yummy cold brew with a BrewBike gift card. 

 

3. An Unruled. notebook

(Photo Credit: @beunruled)

Founded by a group of students in an entrepreneurship course in Fall 2016, Unruled. has turned into a full blown retail operation, offering their products around Evanston and online. Give the gift of visual thinking and endless possibilities with their flagship product, the Unruled. Notebook.

 

4. Give the gift of giving back

(Photo Credit: @connectcareapp)

Co-founded by Matt Zients (SESP, ’20), Connect & Care is a mobile application created by students, for students. They are revolutionizing the way we give back to the causes we care about most through beautiful design and UI and fun quizzes that will match you with three nonprofit organizations aligned with what you’re passionate about. They’ve made the process of giving back incredibly easy, and this might be the perfect way to flex your philanthropic muscles this holiday season.

 

5. A little greenery from Welltended

(Photo Credit: @welltended)

Founded by Carolyn Snider (Kellogg, ‘17), Welltended is a former Resident of The Garage, changing the way we buy and care for plants. We spend a ton of time indoors, so WellTended believes it’s important to cultivate a home that’s bright, fresh, and happy by bringing a little bit of nature inside. Welltended’s website is sleek and fun, and their planters and plant options can give any indoor space a vibrant makeover (plus, you can even sign up for watering reminders, helping even those of us who don’t have a green thumb live a Welltended life).

 

6. A Northwestern student-authored book

Chris Guo (Weinberg, ’19) always struggled to sit still. He channeled that restlessness; going from a skinny kid to a Division I swimming recruit. But instead of swimming in college, he decided to quit and focus on his studies. His goal was to become an investment banker since he was told that bankers make the most money out of college. Chris soon realized, however, that finance wasn’t his thing and instead started an e-commerce party supply company during his freshman year. Since then, he has been passionate about entrepreneurship and helping young people to discover what they want to do in life.

Resident Spotlight: BrewBike

Move over, Starbucks!

BrewBike is a coffee business for students, by students. The Garage sat down with Lucas Philips, co-founder and Chief Growth Officer, to learn how to “fuel the hustle.”

This interview has been edited and condensed.

What inspired BrewBike?

There were a few things that we needed [BrewBike] to do. We needed to be on campus. We wanted it to be student-run. We needed [BrewBike] to provide really convenient, quality coffee. And in order to do those things, we couldn’t have a storefront. We eventually stumbled upon this cold brew bicycle idea from Matt Matros, who’s the founder of Limitless Coffee & Tea. He was here giving a family dinner chat my freshman spring, and that’s when we met him. He gave us the idea to pursue the cold brew bike.

What differentiates BrewBike from other coffee shops?

What’s really different about it is that students run it. As a company, we really care about that experience that students are getting with BrewBike. We also think the experience students are getting within BrewBike is compelling for our customers outside of BrewBike. They realize that it’s an experiential learning opportunity for members of their community. We are employing 50 to 60 Northwestern students. They’re getting a really hands-on business learning opportunity.

Also, we try to have a better product. It’s more specialty. It’s more local. We brew everything in small batches. There’s nothing corporate about BrewBike.

How has BrewBike evolved?

 We started with the bike. We raised $10,000 on Indiegogo, and another $10,000 from The Garage’s Wildfire [Pre-Accelerator] Program, and we maxed out a few credit cards. So, with maybe $30,000 dollars in capital, we launched this bike with a commercial kitchen that we built out in the basement of my fraternity house. The bike was totally failing…it was really hard to get customers to change their habits. We thought we were going to go out of business.

We pushed to get an opportunity to open up a retail space in Annenberg Hall. The dean was amenable, so within two or three weeks, we had built a very scrappy, low-cost coffee kiosk. By the end of that quarter, we were slightly profitable, so we were able to stay open. In the spring of my sophomore year, we had the bike, the shop, and keg subscriptions. We sell kegs of our coffee to fraternities and sororities. With those three lines of business, we were able to continue to grow.

What can we expect from BrewBike in the future?

 Better hours. We are going to start outsourcing food to Compass Group, so they’re going to start handling food in the library so we can focus more on differentiated drink offerings.

[People can also expect] more bikes and more campuses. We’ve hired a bunch of students at [The University of Texas at] Austin…in the next two months, we’ll probably be there. We have a full-time BrewBike employee who’s launching the campus there.

How has The Garage helped BrewBike?

The Garage has helped us with cash when we need cash…people, when we need people. Mentorship. I’m really well coached by people in The Garage.

The residency system is kind of an accountability system, where you only continue to get residency if you continue to work on your business. You’re around all these other people who are growing their businesses, so it pushes me to grow mine.

Who is an entrepreneur you look up to, and why?

Matt Matros is someone who I look up to. He’s our chief advisor. He’s been there for us since Day One. He was the one who gave us the bike idea. He’ll always make time for us when we need it.

For more information, visit BrewBike’s website, Facebook page or Instagram.


Megan Lebowitz is a freshman majoring in journalism. She is a reporter for Northwestern News Network and loves storytelling in all forms. She is from Cleveland, Ohio.

Resident Spotlight: MakerGirl

What started off as a project through Northwestern’s Society of Women Engineers blossomed into a new chapter of MakerGirl in the spring of 2018. This Northwestern chapter is directed by Amanda Mirande, Nancy Yao and Rika Ko. The program teaches young girls about STEM through 3D printing classes. MakerGirl is headquartered at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The Garage sat down with the directors to learn how MakerGirl takes girls from pencils to prints.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

On teaching

Nancy Yao: We do a little presentation on what is 3D printing and how the 3D printers work. Based on the theme that we have, we encourage the girls to draw with pencils and paper what kinds of things they would want to design to create as 3D objects later. After that we use a program called Tinkercad. It’s like a 3D printing CAD software, but it’s targeted towards beginners and children. That’ll be where they actually get to turn the drawings that they made into a 3D object on the screen. The volunteers will send those 3D CAD files to the 3D printers, and then the girls can watch them print on the 3D printers, which they’re always really interested in doing. For the remaining time we’ll have mentors lead some themed class activities while they wait for the prints to finish.

Amanda Mirande: The lesson that they take is if you have something on paper, you can make that into something real. I think that’s pretty powerful. Also, you’re working within constraints, which I think is a big life lesson. You’re working within constraints but you can still make something super cool.

On inspiration

Rika Ko: I think about all the times I was younger and I think I definitely showed a lot of inclination towards STEM subjects. I just feel like if I had something like [MakerGirl] that my parents were aware of when I was younger, this fascination could have turned into something much deeper earlier on.

NY: The girls that we reach are around the age of 7 to 10, so they are at an age where they have a lot of potential. I think it’s really important for them to know that going into science and learning about technology is a very real possibility for them.

On reactions

RK: [The girls are] just ecstatic to show their parents when they come. They’re so proud of themselves, and they should be. I think the parents are also really, really supportive. We’ve had some repeat girls come, and every time the moms are like, “This is amazing. I’m trying to get my friends to bring their kids to it.” It’s a good way to get your child learning, but also having fun.

AM: Parents, whenever they come pick [their children] up, are super excited to see whatever they created.

On team

NY: We’ve been talking to different groups outside of Northwestern to see about partnering with different schools and organizations like Girl Scouts. It’s really a big time for growth right now. We’re trying to reach more girls than ever.

RK: We recently had applications for expanding our team at Northwestern, which is super exciting because up until a few weeks ago, it’s just been me, Nancy and Amanda trying to take care of everything. Hopefully we’ll be able to cover more ground by having more people.

AM: My team is pretty key. I feel like we all have strengths. We work well together, and that’s super important.

MakerGirl hopes to add lessons on virtual reality. The directors aim to continue inspiring confidence in young girls and teach them that they are fully capable of pursuing their interest in STEM. For more information, visit MakerGirl’s Facebook page here or follow them on Instagram.

The Propel Program + NYC 2018

Interested in applying to the Propel Program? Applications are open now! 


We just can’t stay put.

To kick off both a new year at Northwestern, and to launch the Propel Program, we packed our bags and took off to New York City with eight female Northwestern students with an interest in entrepreneurship, innovation, and all things #GirlBoss.

But let’s take a New York minute to learn more about the Propel Program, and its inaugural participants. Thanks to the incredibly generous Steve Elms ’92 MBA, and his wife, Katherine Elms, The Garage in partnership with the Innovation and New Ventures Office (INVO) launched the Propel Program. The Propel Program is designed to foster diversity and inclusion in entrepreneurship across Northwestern by offering support and encouragement to some entrepreneurial superstars through networking, mentorship, and immersive learning experiences. To learn more about the Propel Program, click here to read the INVO News story.

The inaugural participants in the Propel Program represent five schools across Northwestern, ranging from seniors to sophomores with a diverse set of interests and entrepreneurial endeavors ranging from digital marketing, to politics and education, to nonprofits and med-tech. Let’s take a closer look at our roster of #GirlBoss Northwestern students.

Upon arrival in NYC, we had the once in a lifetime opportunity to have a private, guided tour of the iconic and historic New York Stock Exchange, nestled on Wall Street in the Financial District. We were welcomed by an associate, Jon Wright, and the current COO of Capital Marketings at the NYSE, Carolyn Saacke. We were excited to hear more about the experience of working in the financial industry, and about the New York Stock Exchange’s current President, Stacey Cunningham. Stacey is the first female President at the NYSE, after 226 years of operation. After our meeting, we were ushered on to the floor of the NYSE for the opening bell – an experience that has been closed to the public since September 11, 2001. We were super excited to see an IPO live and in person.

The rest of the day was packed with office visits and intimate, interesting, and insightful conversations with women working in NYC. We stopped by Goldman Sachs for lunch and a tour, and had the opportunity to listen to the journeys of Elizabeth Overbay, the COO of Goldman Sachs, and Chantal Garcia, CCBD Chief of Staff. The biggest takeaway? Flex your style for the job you want.

After that, we hopped on the NYC subway to stop by Arianna Huffington’s newest venture, Thrive Global. After experiencing immense burnout, Arianna started Thrive Global to promote overall wellness, and especially mental wellness, in the workplace. We learned from some of Arianna’s staff about the importance of prioritization, and being comfortable with incompletions. The mission at Thrive Global was inspiring, and we hope to take a little piece of their approach back to The Garage and our students.

Finally, our last stop of the day was The New York Times. We were welcomed by two Northwestern alumni, Erica Futterman, Newsroom Strategy Editor, Medill ’06 and Tapasya Wancho, Product Manager for Wirecutter, McCormick ’10. We really enjoyed the open and frank talk about the various paths students take after Northwestern, and learned that not everyone’s journey is linear and perfect.

To top off the busy day, we had dinner at the well-known Ivan Ramen and had the chance to meet and talk with Steve Elms in person over bowls of hot noodles. Oh, and we defintely grabbed some boba next door afterwards.

The next day, we were up bright and early to head to Rockefeller Plaza, where Northwestern has a NYC based alumni relations and development office. We had a roundtable chat with Melanie Greifer, WCAS ’93 and a pediatric gastroenterologist, Michele Ganeless ’87, Co-President of MO Studios and former President of Comedy Central, and Linnea Perilli-Minette ’09, Product and Program Management Lead at Square Capital. After introductions, our group was having such a good time networking and learning that we had to eat lunch at the conference table while talking to stay on schedule!

After a quick debrief, the group had the day in NYC to sightsee and tour.

What are the next moves these women will make? We’re sending them out into the world, armed with knowledge, mentors, and the power to make change as ambassadors to recruit the next generation of applicants and participants in this program, and others like it on campus. But for now, it’s back to work! 

Interested in applying to the Propel Program? Applications are open now!