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.
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.