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.
Jumpstart team BearRoom recently sat down with The Garage to share more about their company and entrepreneurial journey. This summer, BearRoom has four team members collaborating on their cloud-based interface designed to connect people through board games. Sofia Melendez, project manager, David Yim, software developer, Jiawei Wu, summer game development intern, and Minseo Kim, software development intern, are dedicating their time to creating new games for the BearRoom platform.
“Our mission is to make the traditional tabletop board game experience more accessible,” shared Sofia. “We do this by transforming your smartphone into a game controller and a shared screen into the game board.” These online games allow friends and family separated by distance to connect over a shared activity. Individuals’ phones can be anything from a controller to a deck of cards, allowing the team to create numerous unique games for the platform.
The four Jumpstart participants each joined the team in a unique way due to their belief in the mission and their own individual passion for board games. Sofia is a computer science major at Northwestern who was looking for coding experience. When she got an email about startup matchmaking at The Garage, she hopped on the Zoom, excited to connect with a team in need of a developer. There, she learned about IX labs, an early-stage company working to make gaming more accessible. David joined IX labs at the same time. He arrived at Northwestern’s campus with a passion for entrepreneurship and knew he wanted to get involved in The Garage, leading him to seek out a team through startup matchmaking. At the time, IX lab was a collection of numerous different projects. David and Sofia played key roles in shaping the new direction of the company, becoming BoardHub and then changing to BearRoom. This summer, they are joined by interns Jiawei and Minseo, students looking to acquire more coding experience and who share a passion for game design.
During Jumpstart the team is “prioritizing product development and customer acquisition.” They share the goals of putting two or three more games on the website prior to Demo Day as well as working on their marketing strategy and establishing product-market fit.
Currently, the team has one game available on their website. The BearRoom original is called Flip the Dog. The team created original designs and added unique game mechanics to the Sushi Go! inspired game. In the future, the team is planning to focus more on digitizing existing games, allowing people to connect over the games they already know and love.
Want to get in touch or learn more? Visit the website to become a play tester or follow the team's Instagram @bearroom.io!
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.