2018 - 2019 Year in Review

We fuel transformation

This year, we discovered the incredible impact of possibility – opening doors to futures, paths, and places our students didn’t dare dream of. Our secret? It takes determination, a strong, diverse, supportive community, and a little bit of heart.

Coast to Coast

From bustling New York City to sunny LA, we’ve seen it all this year.

Back in October 2018, we officially launched the Propel Program thanks to the generous support of Steve Elms ’92 and his wife, Katherine Elms. Propel offers budding women student entrepreneurs at Northwestern access to networking, mentorship, and immersive learning experiences in addition to stipends to support their entrepreneurial projects. We kicked off our adventure by inviting eight student ambassadors on a #GirlBoss trip to NYC, where we visited with alumnae at notable companies like Goldman Sachs, The New York Times, and Thrive Global (Ariana Huffington’s latest startup). Not only did our ambassadors give us feedback on ways to open doors for women students at Northwestern, they also gained insight from incredible alumni at an intimate roundtable, including Michele Ganeless ’87, Co-President of MO Studios and former President of Comedy Central.

Then in January 2019, we took a cohort of our Little Joe Ventures Fellows, a program launched last year and made possible by a gift from alumnus Tony Owen ’97, ’03 MBA and Monique Owen, on a star studded field trip to sunny LA. Aside from a lot of In-N-Out burgers and a welcome escape from the Midwestern winter, one of our greatest highlights was the look on Vishaal Mali’s (McCormick ’20 + founder of PedalCell) face when we pulled up to SpaceX for a private tour. We also got an inside look at goop’s headquarters and had a private lunch and discussion with Gwyneth Paltrow herself (she goes by GP by the way)!


Our programs are built on three beliefs for our students: trust yourself, do the work, and forge your own path. Through these tenets, we are helping shape incredibly successful, insightful, and forward thinking students and alumni who are unabashedly willing to do whatever it takes to make our world better.

The Highlight Reel

FlyHomes, incubated at The Garage, raises $141M

BrewBike raises

LifeWatch Kickstarter is fully funded at $15,038 raised by backers​

BrewBike and Rhaeos both take home cash at the Rice Business Plan Competition​

Scoots’ Kickstarter is fully funded at $46,213 raised by backers​

Students have a private hangout with SpaceX COO and President (and Northwestern alum) Gwynne Shotwell

Rhaeos raises $450K in funds and prizes

Samantha Letscher, McCormick ’18 and co-founder of BOSSY takes home


at Grace Hopper Celebration in Chicago

Family Dinner speakers we loved having:
Josh Earnest – White House Press Secretary for the Obama Administration
Stephen Kuhl – Co-founder of Burrow
Jake Nickell – Founder and CEO of Threadless
Luke Saunders – Founder and CEO of Farmer’s Fridge

Play Video


Drew Luckenbaugh, McCormick ’20, became a Northwestern football hero after he made a game winning field goal as a walk-on in the fall – but at The Garage, we already knew all about Drew and his willingness to take risks and try new things. He participated in Wildfire 2018 as part of a startup, MOGO, and is working on his next idea, BarTap, as a Resident.


This year, our programs offering space and resources for student founders across every school at Northwestern, operated at record capacity. We supported over 450 students working on 151 entrepreneurial projects. But our continued growth also comes with lessons. Our biggest stride has come from understanding the challenges behind balancing accessibility and inclusion while providing an unparalleled and individualized experience for students ready to take the leap into entrepreneurship.

Our biggest news? We’re working on wrapping up our brand new space nestled near the downtown Northwestern campus, The Garage at The Sardine Bar. Located in the historic 680 North Lake Shore Drive building, the previously shuttered jazz bar, The Gold Star Sardine Bar, hosted musical greats like Liza Minelli and Tony Bennett and packed bar-goers in like sardines before closing its doors in the 90’s.

We’re paying homage to the history of the space by keeping the name and the original neon signs – including one that reads “toujours l’amour” (love always). The Sardine Bar, opening in Fall 2019, is a satellite extension of The Garage and will be a hub for Feinberg, Pritzker, Kellogg, and PhD students, as well as Chicago based alumni interested in entrepreneurship and innovation. As always, stay tuned.

Toujours l’amour,

Melissa Kaufman + The Garage Team