Food, Fellowship, & Forward Thinking - Shaping The Garage SF's Future, an Event Recap

Event Recaps
Keyaira Lock Adewunmi
Dec 4, 2023
group of dinner attendees at TGSF

Keyaira Lock Adewunmi, The Garage SF’s newly appointed Director of Entrepreneurship, hosted an inaugural event on November 15th, bringing together Northwestern alumni from across the Bay Area to enjoy food, fellowship, and brainstorm ideas for the future of the program.

The Garage SF is home to a collaborative community of Northwestern alumni founders, operators, and investors who support each other professionally. Through a weekly newsletter, regular events, and initiatives that bring alumni founders together over specific interests, job functions, and ambitions, Lock Adewunmi aims to increase the accessibility and visibility of the Northwestern community in San Francisco. In turn, this community will continue to serve as a resource for Northwestern students and faculty - providing mentorship, advice, and career support for students, and professional connections for faculty looking for partners in the tech ecosystem.

The primary intention of the Food, Fellowship, & Forward Thinking Dinner was clear - we wanted to spark innovation, collaboration, and shape the future of our entrepreneurial community. Elise Wu, one of our enthusiastic attendees, couldn't agree more, saying, "Had a blast at The Garage SF's Food, Fellowship, & Forward Thinking Dinner! From tasty bites to engaging convos, it was the perfect mashup of good vibes, great people, and some seriously cool ideas—totally captures the spirit of our awesome Northwestern community in the SF Bay Area!"

Now, let's take a closer look at how this event unfolded:

A Taste of Innovation: HILDA AND JESSE

Before diving into the core of the evening, we kicked things off with a culinary journey courtesy of HILDA AND JESSE, a restaurant founded by Northwestern alumni. The menu featured Root Down Farm Chicken with Outrageous Brown Butter (contains soy), Roasted Black Futsu Squash with Cashew Milk, Pecan, and Chili Crisp (vegan, gf), and a delightful Seasonal Broccoli Dish.

The tantalizing aromas and mouthwatering bites set the stage for what was to come. It was more than just a meal; it was an opportunity for our guests to connect and get ready for a night of impactful conversations and creative thinking.

Engaging the Northwestern Spirit

The event's agenda was thoughtfully designed to engage and inspire our attendees. It began with an open arrival, networking dinner, and group brainstorming, providing a warm welcome and a chance to network, reconnect, and generate innovative solutions that will inform the direction of The Garage SF with fellow alumni.

Cameron MacArthur, founder and CEO at A.I. Insurance Inc., recognized our strength in community building, stating, "It's clear The Garage SF is really good at building culture and community as a product. That's good news for Northwestern! The experience was great; it was especially nice to see some familiar faces that I know are here in SF and in the startup community, but it's sometimes tough to make time to see folks. I look forward to coming to another event and continuing to grow the entrepreneurship community out here in SF!"

Abbie Wolf, founder at Wild Works Basketball, who felt right at home, shared her perspective: “The Garage was a safe haven for me while playing basketball at Northwestern—a place to be creative to grow my community outside of athletics. I have a feeling The Garage in San Francisco will be that same safe haven to grow personally and professionally as I navigate the venture capital space.”

The "How Might We" Session: Igniting Creativity

Our primary goal for the evening was to encourage creative thinking and collaboration. We posed some significant problem questions: How might we effectively shape The Garage SF's future? Enhance its programs and support? And inspire active participation in creating an inclusive and supportive entrepreneurial community? These questions were designed to guide our discussions and ideas. Using Gregory Schmidt's large group brainstorming method, here's how it unfolded:

  • All Rise: Attendees embraced active participation by standing, infusing energy into the discussions.
  • Find a Group of 4-6 People: Diverse groups were formed to encourage fresh perspectives.
  • Stay Standing Around the White Board: Standing circles kept the energy flowing, ensuring everyone's commitment.
  • Read the Prompt: 'How Might We' prompts set the stage for exploring uncharted territories.
  • Come Up with Ideas: Creativity flowed, with attendees focusing on quantity and diversity.
  • Write Down and Share Ideas: Ideas were shared and displayed for all to see, forming a tapestry of innovation.
  • Build on Each Other's Contributions: Collaboration was key, as attendees inspired each other with fresh ideas.
  • Collect Sticky Notes at the End of Each Round: After each prompt, we gathered the tangible results, ready for the next creative step.

From this activity, Troy Daley, co-founder at LabStart, confirmed he discovered the power of our global network, stating, "The dinner at the Garage SF helped me realize my NU entrepreneurial community wasn't left back in college or Chicago; I have a global network of Wildcats who I can call on for support and advice."

Inspiring Takeaways and New Horizons

The Food, Fellowship, & Forward Thinking Dinner exceeded our expectations, achieving our goals:

  • Attendees were inspired and actively participated in shaping the future of The Garage SF and its community.
  • We gathered valuable insights and innovative ideas that will drive the evolution of The Garage SF's programs and support.
  • The event fostered inclusivity, uniting Northwestern alumni in the Bay Area with a shared entrepreneurial vision.

As the evening concluded with closing remarks and community announcements, we knew we had taken a significant step toward realizing our vision for The Garage SF. It was a night that left us filled with hope and anticipation, knowing that our creative journey had just begun.

And as we reflect on this incredible evening, we can't help but share the words of Drake Mumford: “What I enjoyed most about the F, F & FT dinner was the collaborative environment and being able to meet and converse with so many other ambitious alums. It was inspiring!"

The feedback from our attendees reaffirmed that we're on the right path to fostering innovation, collaboration, and community within the Northwestern alumni network in the SF Bay Area. We're excited for what the future holds and invite you to be a part of it!

Stay tuned for more events, innovation, and fellowship at The Garage SF!

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