by Elizabeth Savin ’25
For the first time in two years, women student founders participating in the Propel program, The Garage’s award-winning program to increase diversity in entrepreneurship, packed their bags and traveled to New York City! On the trip, they had the chance to see the city up close, speak with employees at various companies, and get to know other women entrepreneurs through an alumni meet up. Learn more about each of the selected participants here!
Propel selects eight new students to participate each academic quarter. For this trip, a group of ten students from the previous six cohorts were selected to travel with the program. The women entrepreneurs represented Kellogg, Weinberg, McCormick, Medill, Beinen, and SESP. The group was joined by Elisa Mitchell, Assistant Director of Finance and Operations at The Garage, Elisabeth Wright, Marketing Manager at The Garage, and Lilia Kogan, Propel Program Manager.
After arriving late Thursday night (and enjoying some classic NYC pizza slices) the ten female student founders gathered in the morning for a quick breakfast. During breakfast, students played a game of Hot Seat – a Garage classic. One student is in the “hot seat” for two minutes while everyone else is able to ask them questions. It was a great way to break the ice and get to know each other before getting started with the day.
Next, the group headed out for office visits with Away and Snap, Inc. While on-site, students had the opportunity to ask questions, learn about the work environments, and learn more about the missions of each company. First up, participants stopped by the Away headquarters, which have been newly renovated. There, students had the opportunity to take a tour and to meet with some core members of the Away team. Afterwards, everyone ate lunch together at the Away office in their fully stocked kitchen!
Next up, the group headed to the Snap, Inc. office in the heart of Times Square. There, following a quick introduction to the office, some key staff, including two Northwestern alums, offered time for a Q&A session.
“This trip provided unique viewership of how companies are pivoting strategies both internal and external to cope with reactions to COVID-19 by consumers and employees,” shared Zoe Lewis, co-founder of SquairOne. The women founders were excited by the unique functionalities of each space and excited to incorporate new technologies into their own projects.
After an inspiring day, students were given the opportunity to explore the city. Female founders took the time to create connections while seeing New York City landmarks such as Time Square and Central Park.
That evening, students returned to the Kimberly Hotel for a delicious dinner. Students were joined by Andrew (Northwestern ‘91) and Heather Zuckerman, who have generously funded Propel as well as Sarah Foley (Northwestern ‘94), partner at SWAT Equity Partners. The women entrepreneurs had the chance to share their ideas, receive feedback, and learn about the careers of the alumni.
The next morning, students made their way to the Northwestern Alumni Relations and Development offices at Rockefeller Plaza to meet with alums for a casual round table panel. Students had the opportunity to learn from Amber Cline (‘18), Mollie Leavitt (‘18), Katie Hoffman (‘21), Erica Futterman (‘06), Rachel Cantor (‘20), Brammy Geduld (‘19), and Audrey Valbuena (‘19). The panel discussed the career path of each alum, when you know it is time to make a change in your career, and what it means to have a mentor. Afterwards, students and alumni had Sweetgreen while connecting more over Northwestern activities and career goals. “The Propel trip to NYC was an amazing experience. It was incredible to connect with alumni living and working in New York City.” shared Lainey Dow, Chief of Customer Success at AMA.
Now, the students are back in Evanson, excited to continue working on their projects and ready to inspire other female entrepreneurs. If you are interested in the Propel program or getting involved in The Garage you can learn more here.
Elizabeth Savin ’25 is a Manufacturing and Design Engineering major from Wilmette, IL. She is a student aide at The Garage and was part of the Winter 2022 Propel cohort. She is excited to begin her own venture while learning more about entrepreneurship.