Northwestern is very proud to be home of the Wildcats. Many of our programs make a nod to our school mascot including VentureCat, Northwestern’s annual student startup competition, and Wildfire, The Garage’s summer pre-accelerator program. (Fun fact: both programs were named by students at The Garage.) We especially liked the name Wildfire for our 10 week summer pre-accelerator program because it suggested fast, explosive growth for our student-founded startup teams.
However, over the past several years, we’ve become acutely aware of the negative connotations of the word wildfire. The 2020 wildfire season was a devastating and record-setting year of wildfires in California and throughout the West. It was insensitive to promote our program Wildfire while actual wildfire rages and ravaged our country, so we’ve renamed our program.
Jumpstart, formerly known as Wildfire, continues to introduce student-founders to new ways of thinking and problem solving, offers content from industry experts and leaders, and be part of a community of like-minded peers. Jumpstart, an automotive term, honors our name The Garage as well as our physical space which is in the North Campus Parking Garage.
Since launching our summer pre-accelerator in 2016, nearly 50 teams have participated. In that time, The Garage has given over $580,000 of non-dilutive capital to participating teams – that figure includes a financial award of $10,000 per team throughout the summer and a prize pool of $10,000 split between the first, second, and third place teams at the end of program Demo Day.
Of our inaugural summer 2016 teams, many are still active today – a testament to the commitment of our students and the effectiveness of our program.
Brewbike is going strong, having sold over 100,000 cups of coffee, raised millions of dollars, and expanded to multiple universities around the country and has thrived even during a global pandemic.
Zcruit, a college football recruiting tool, was acquired soon after participation in our pre-accelerator, making it the first acquisition of a startup incubated at The Garage.
OneTrack (previously IFM) has raised funding from multiple sources and is still working to make warehouses safer using AI (and even has offices in the US and Europe).
We’re so excited to rebrand one of our most competitive and popular programs. Applications for early decisions for Jumpstart 2021 are opening soon on January 18, 2021. We can’t wait to welcome a new cohort of impressive student founders and their teams!