EPIC is Northwestern’s undergraduate entrepreneurship club.
Co-founded by Sam Shank (Kellogg ’04)
Northwestern Affiliations: Entrepreneurship Club
Sam Shank founded HotelTonight, recently acquired by Airbnb, the on-demand hotel booking app, in 2011, which now has more than 30 millions downloads. Operating exclusively through mobile bookings, HotelTonight is the leading mobile app for hotel bookings last minute and beyond, ensuring there’s always a quality hotel room at the lowest possible rate in 1,700 cities and nearly 40 countries.
Co-founded by Sonali Lamba (Kellogg ’12) and Nicole Staple (Kellogg ’12)
Northwestern Affiliations: Sonali – Entrepreneur in Residence, Nicole – Women’s Business Association, Kellogg Tech Conference, Kellogg Board Fellows
Sonali Lamba and Nicole Staple met their first year at Kellogg in 2010, and incorporated Brideside in 2012 with a major launch in 2014. Brideside reinvented wedding retail by providing an all-channel concierge service experience that eases the bridal party planning process. Their dedicated style consultants work closely with brides and bridesmaids to curate their vision from a collection of affordable and on-trend bridesmaid dresses and gifts. Their showrooms, digital tools and try at home program make it easy for bridal parties to coordinate, no matter where they live. Realizing Chicago has the largest wedding market by spend, Brideside opened their first brick-and-mortar in the Fulton River District. Since 2015, the company has raised $6.5M in funding and has launched four additional showroom locations. Brideside’s newest flagship location will open in NYC in November 2018.
Co-founded by Mackenzie Barth (SoC ’13) and Sarah Adler (Medill ’13)
Northwestern Affiliations: Mackenzie – Kappa Kappa Gamma Sorority, LIFT Evanston, Hillel Campus Engagement Corps. Sarah – Kappa Kappa Gamma Sorority, North by Northwestern
Sarah Adler and Mackenzie Barth (both listed in Forbes 2018 30 Under 30) were juniors at Northwestern when they decided to start their own website combining their passion for journalism and food. Spoon University, a website to share recipes, stories, trends, and other food-related content launched in 2012 and grew to a 100-person student team at Northwestern’s campus within a year. Now, Spoon University has expanded into 250 universities with over 7,000 contributors. In May 2016, Scripps Networks Interactive acquired the company at a valuation of $11 million.
Co-founded by Elise Wetzel (WCAS’87, KSM’92
Northwestern Affiliations: A&O Productions, Alpha Chi Omega Sorority
Standing in line with her husband at Chipotle one day in 2011, Elise Wetzel surveyed the fresh ingredients on the menu and the customized approach to each meal. And then she asked herself: Why couldn’t that same approach work for pizza? Elise is the co-founder of Blaze Pizza, a nationwide fast-casual pizza restaurant that has grown in popularity. The Northwestern alumna founded the chain in 2011 with her husband, Rick Wetzel, who co-founded Wetzel’s Pretzels. In the five years since, the company has added more than 200 restaurants across North America, captured A-list investors such as LeBron James and Maria Shriver, and secured brand-building partnerships with Project(RED), and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. With annual sales now approaching $300 million, Wetzel believes Blaze will become a $1 billion brand by 2022.
Co-founded by Steven Szaronos (Kellogg ’11) and Rishi Prabhu (Kellogg ‘11)
Northwestern Affiliations: Steven – Kellogg Board Fellows, Wildcat Angels Associate, Venture Lab, DAK Executive Committee, New Orleans Entrepreneurship Week, Austin Scholar
Steve Szaronos and Rishi Prabhu founded Bespoke Post in 2011 after being accepted into the Entrepreneur’s Roundtable Accelerator program and seeing an opportunity in the e-commerce market for a subscription service for men. Since raising $25,000 in seed funding, Bespoke Post has grown to become the leading lifestyle subscription and e-commerce service for men, delivering monthly “boxes of awesome” filled with quality products, like home bar essentials and shaving sets, to more than 100,000 subscribers in the U.S. and Canada. They most recently raised $8 million in funding in a Series A, and have built out a team of more than 40 employees headquartered in New York City.