by Elizabeth Savin ’25
The Garage’s pre-accelerator program, Jumpstart, is currently in full swing. Ten teams participate in a variety of workshops, connect with mentors, and support each other as they build their startups. Running for 10 weeks, Jumpstart awards each team with $10,000 of non-dilutive funds. At the end of the program, The Garage hosts Demo Day, an event where teams compete for an additional prize pool of $10,000.
Recently, The Garage sat down with Stanley Jia and Joseph Merkadeau, co-founders of Yitzy, to learn more about their company and entrepreneurial journeys. The pair are spending their summer developing a social wellness community with the goal of fostering greater connection between individuals.
Stanley and Joseph met at the beginning of high school and each worked on a variety of different business projects before co-founding Yitzy. “I have always had a passion for self-improvement, programming, and design. Yitzy allowed me to combine those three things while pursuing the path of entrepreneurship,” shared Stanley. When Stanley brought the idea of a data-driven mental health platform to Joseph, he was excited to take part. “I’ve always been math and statistics focused. I was excited to join Stanley at the prospect of further understanding my own mental health through data, and helping others do the same.” Since the initial idea, the team has continued iterating and building, shifting to a more community-based platform.
Now, Yitzy allows users to share their honest thoughts with close friends through daily social journaling—encouraging introspection as a community. Within the platform, users are able to share how they are feeling with their friends in order to foster deeper connections. The team is currently exploring how to build a value-focused community through storytelling and features like thematic journaling.
Their time in Jumpstart is allowing the team to dive into the development of the app, “a feature that would have taken us months at our previous pace we are now able to build and test within a week.” In addition to quick iteration and user-testing, the team plans to continue improving product-market fit by further aligning the platform’s features with their community values.
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.