“If you’re going to spend 24 hours a day thinking about it, you better love it!” That’s what Noah Bleicher, KSM ‘15, told residents of The Garage last Tuesday, when reflecting on why he chose to create Viet Nom Nom. Bleicher is the CEO/Founder of Viet Nom Nom, a restaurant/catering company that offers fast-casual, healthy Vietnamese food.
After working in Colombia for a few years and running a bed-and-breakfast, Bleicher returned to the United States and wanted to re-enter the food industry. He had worked in restaurants as a waiter in high school, sparking his interest in the restaurant business. His motivation for creating Viet Nom Nom stemmed from noticing a lack of fast, healthy, flavorful food options, so he partnered up with Alan Moy, and the two researched what kind of food would meet this criteria. They traveled to San Francisco and Seattle, among other cities, to understand the way restaurants like the one they envisioned operated. They ultimately settled on Vietnamese cuisine for its use of flavorful, healthy, and fresh ingredients and felt they could translate them into delicious fast food; thus, they opened Viet Nom Nom. They have been successful as a catering business and are soon opening up a brick-and-mortar location in downtown Evanston later this fall at 618 ½ Church St.
Noah Bleicher and his business partner, Alan Moy
Ultimately, Bleicher encouraged members of The Garage to take advantage of the resources available to them at Northwestern, and to pursue something they love. “Don’t be afraid of failure,” he said, encouraging student entrepreneurs to take risks, as that is what will ultimately lead them to success.
Rishi Shah (WCAS ’08) founded Context Media in 2006. Context Media provides digital screens that educate patients on how to live healthier. Their product impacts hundreds of millions of patient visits across 10,000+ hospital & health systems. In 2012, he co-founded Jumpstart Ventures, through which he has made over 45 direct investments in fast growing early to late stage startups.
Stella Garber (WCAS ’09) is currently Vice President of Marketing for Trello. Before Trello, Stella was cofounder and CEO of matchist, a matching site for developers and entrepreneurs as well as on the founding team of FeeFighters, a payments startup that raised $1.5 million before being acquired by Groupon. Stella holds a BA in Psychology from Northwestern, and an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
Matt Matros was the Founder, and is current Board Director, of Protein Bar. Protein Bar is a healthy-food quick serve chain with locations in Chicago, Washington DC, and Denver/Boulder.Matt is currently a co-founder of Limitless Coffee and Tea. Matt has an MBA from Michigan and a B.A. in Communication from USC.
Genevieve Thiers (M Mus ’04) is an entrepreneur / opera singer / mother of twins. She’s also the founder of America’s first online caregiving service, Sittercity.com, which now has millions of users in the US, UK and Canada, and serves hundreds of corporate clients like the U.S. Department of Defense, Avon, Mastercard, Monster.com and many others.
Gregg Latterman is a music and entertainment industry entrepreneur. Upon graduating from Kellogg, Gregg negotiated a joint venture with Columbia Records and signed Train, Five for Fighting, John Mayer and Mat Kearney to his independent record label, Aware, founded in 1993. In 1999, Gregg built A-Squared Management that directed the careers of artists such as The Fray, Michelle Branch, Liz Phair, Brandi Carlile, Jack’s Mannequin, Mat Kearney and Five for Fighting. The artists Gregg has signed/or managed have sold over 30 millions CD’s. Gregg was one of the early entrepreneurs to combine music with television, film and advertising campaigns. He worked with the network ABC to bring The Fray’s video of the song “How to Save a Life” into promotional spots for the popular television show “Grey’s Anatomy.” Gregg graduated in 2013 with a Masters in Positive Psychology from The University of Pennsylvania under Martin Seligman and now teaches “Positive Entrepreneurship” at Northwestern University. He is also teaching a course at Northwestern called, NUvention: Entrepreneurship for the Arts. Angel Investments include the following companies: NATIV/Pairade, Music Audience Exchange, Rise Science, StageIt, MightyNest, King-Devick Test and TextUs. Gregg has, both formally and informally, mentored most of The Garage resident teams.
Katrina Lake founded Stitch Fix while she was a student at Harvard Business School. Since 2011, Katrina has hired a world-class executive team with experience from major companies including Netflix, Walmart.com, Nike and lululemon, and has grown the company to over 1,500 employees across the country. Katrina holds a B.S. in Economics from Stanford University and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, and serves on the board of directors and audit committee of food delivery service GrubHub (NYSE: GRUB).
Raaja Nemani (WCAS, ’04) founded BucketFeet in 2011 and serves as the company’s Chief Executive Officer. BucketFeet is a Chicago-based e-commerce and retail company that collaborates with artists from around the world to create artist-designed footwear and socks.
Brian Burkhart is an expert on communication, presenting, pitching, and speaking. He has worked with Fortune 500 clients and is one of the most sought after TED presentation gurus in the country. Brian is the founder and CEO of SquarePlanet Presentations & Strategy.