The Garage’s Pre-Accelerator program, Jumpstart (formerly known as Wildfire), aims to develop students as both leaders and founders by introducing new ways of thinking and problem solving.

The Jumpstart Pre-Accelerator program (formerly known as Wildfire) at The Garage seeks to accelerate early-stage student teams by giving them additional resources and coaching over a period of 10 weeks. We aim to help them to reach problem solution fit, and prepare them for the next phase of their ventures whether it’s customer acquisition, growth, fundraising, or applying to accelerators. Jumpstart culminates with Demo Day, where students will present their proposal and gain feedback from established judges. This is a program designed to help early-stage ventures learn, grow, and overcome obstacles preventing the launch of their ventures.

Like all programs at The Garage, Jumpstart welcomes all ideas: for-profit, nonprofit, arts-based, technology, or anything that students wish to see come to life through innovation and hard work.


Jumpstart is comprised of three vital pillars: development of the entrepreneurial toolkit, learning to sell yourself and your idea via pitch practice, and gaining an entrepreneurial mindset. Through thoughtful content workshops, team building activities, and one-on-one guidance, students learn the ABC’s of entrepreneurship, master the art of storytelling, and develop important soft skills like resiliency and the ability to have difficult conversations. Student teams are also offered a stipend to sustain their ventures through the summer.

After Jumpstart wraps, student teams pitch their ventures at Demo Day, where a prize pool of $10,000 is up for grabs.

Jumpstart 2021 Teams

3 Point Productions

3 Point Productions is a film production company based in Nairobi, Kenya that creates high quality content for the Youth, by the Youth in Kenya.

8 In the Box

8 In The Box Productions is a new-age sports media company specializing in football coverage focusing on the placekicking niche.


bekome is a web platform helping Gen-Z, millennials, and people of color find their right therapist based on personality, lifestyle and cultural fit.


A browser extension that surfaces curated alternatives from secondhand marketplaces.

Caped Clinicians

It is a research publication that works to make scientific breakthroughs by presenting research in a non-traditional way.


An online retailer that focuses on sustainably and ethically made women’s clothing.

Cue the Curves

Cue the Curves is an online platform for plus-size women to find and discuss clothing brands.

Empowered Conversations

Empowered Conversations is a non-profit startup dedicated to helping sexual assault survivors have empathetic and healing conversations with their chosen confidants using a web-based training tool.


Explorate strives to make international volunteering feel more at home through connecting travelers around the world and sharing transparent information about the programs.

Indigo Social Club

Indigo Social Club will curate pop-up nightlife events at Evanston venues with the goal of creating fun experiences for Northwestern students and supporting local businesses.


InfernoGuard is developing a utility patented wildfire detection and warning system to improve response time and the negative impacts for at-risk communities.


KOYLD is an afro-textured hair focused brand with a mission is to restore the hair identity of the African and African diasporic woman while creating an environment for her to flourish.


Leva is a customized mentorship software and service designed to empower women in the workplace, enable strong retention, and provide structured mentorship programming.

Liquid Confidence

Liquid Confidence is the first kombucha cocktail on the market, a great-tasting RTD functional beverage that allows you to party without compromise.


Litterbox provides convenient, affordable, and secure summer storage for Northwestern students.

Mark IV Games

We’re Mark IV Games, a group of Northwestern students dedicated to designing and self-publishing engaging and fun board games.


Palette aims to be the DryBar for makeup services, which provides women a way to feel like the most confident version of themselves by offering a makeup service that is dependable, inclusive and convenient.

Pyaari Weddings

Pyaariweddings.co is a first-of-its-kind South Asian wedding directory where couples can shop for wedding vendors based on pricing, reviews, and more; add them to their ‘cart;’ and check out with a customized, a-la-carte wedding plan in less than 5 minutes.


For the aspiring leader, Rhetoric is an application that provides real-time feedback on spoken communication to develop into a more confident, empathetic, and persuasive communicator. Our mission is to enable personal growth, unlock efficiency, and promote powerful habits through “companion artificial intelligence”.


We design adaptive, attractive intimates for women with upper mobility challenges


Talaria aims to make it easier for people to manage the various administrative tasks that follow the death of a loved one such as transferring bills & assets; closing subscriptions or digital accounts; notifying employers, the Social Security Administration, or Veterans Affairs.

The Walnut Brain

Our company, The Walnut Brain, leverages a unique learning mechanism to help lifelong learners retain key ideas from their favorite non-fiction books through powerful questions, increased interactivity, and active recall.


An app community where people share the places they love.

Venture Health Studio (VHS)

A health-tech startup holding company striving to improve the health and lifestyle quality for people worldwide through the development of innovative technological solutions.

Xenah Developers

Coding consultancy that aims to develop skills for CS undergrads while delivering quality apps and websites to clients.


In order to apply, a team must include at least two members. The lead team member must be a full-time student (undergraduate or graduate, at any Northwestern school) during the duration of the program. Priority is given to students that will still be enrolled in the following academic year. Teams can include members from other universities as long as all participating team members commit to the 10 weeks of the program.

At least two members of the team, with at least one of those members being a co-founder, are expected be dedicated to participate in Jumpstart on a full time basis during the summer. Participants are expected to participate in lieu of other employment, an internship, travel, etc. and dedicate 40 hours per week, per team member, to the program.

To be notified when Jumpstart applications open next year, sign up for The Garage’s newsletter here. If you have any questions, please contact us here.


Teams are offered half of their total summer award at the start of Jumpstart, and earn the other half throughout the summer.

In order to participate in Jumpstart, you must have a team of at least two people, including a founder or co-founder. If you are a solo founder, we strongly encourage you to seek a co-founder to join your team when preparing to apply.

Students participating in the program are expected to treat the program like a full-time job, with each member of a team spending at least 40 hours per week on their startup or in Jumpstart programming, including special workshops and team meetings. Time off is not be granted for personal activities or travel.

Jumpstart is a pre-accelerator program. This means it is designed for early-stage ventures or ideas seeking resources and opportunities to discover customer fit, iterate on a product, etc. It’s not ideal for startups already engaged in fundraising or working on later stage startups.

This program is designed for students who are committed to working on their startups full-time. Therefore, it is expected admitted participants do not have or seek other employment, internships, or travel during the 10 weeks that Jumpstart takes place. This applies to every team member.

The programming and schedule vary, and will be detailed at the start of Jumpstart. Typically, two days each week are dedicated to workshops and other content. A third day is reserved for team check-ins with staff and/or mentors. The remainder of each week can be used for pitch practice, customer interviews and other venture-related work. The 4th of July is a holiday.

Normally, yes! However, during remote programming, we aren’t able to feed you. 

No. We welcome all Northwestern students with an idea to apply.

You can use your award however your team likes–some teams opt to pay themselves or use their award for living expenses throughout the summer. You may also save your award or put it toward your venture.


A New Name for The Garage’s Pre-Accelerator: Introducing Jumpstart!

Wildfire Check-in: Halfway through Wildfire 2020!

Wildfire 2020: (Virtual) Demo Day Wrap Up

Student entrepreneurs ignite their ideas at Wildfire

Northwestern University Wildfire Summer Demo Day at The Garage

Unplugg’d pivots brand strategy, wins pitch competition at The Garage


Applications are currently closed.