Jumpstart 2021: Demo Day Wrap Up

Event Recaps
Aug 26, 2021

We can’t believe summer is almost over - but, with the end of summer comes The Garage’s annual Demo Day, the culmination of our pre-accelerator program, Jumpstart (formerly known as Wildfire)! This year, we were excited to incubate 10 student founded startup teams, five of which were Kellogg-led and five were led by undergraduate student founders. All 10 teams pitched in this year’s virtual Demo Day for a prize pool of $10,000 of non-dilutive prize money! You can watch the full event below.


Jumpstart operated in a hybrid format this year - and we were excited to have students participate from all over the country and the world. We also welcomed student team members from other universities including Johns Hopkins, Wake Forest, Middlebury, Lehigh, and Emory. To ensure the safety of all of our participants, workshops and sessions were held virtually, however, students who were local were invited to work out of The Garage - and we especially enjoyed seeing students in our space again.

Jumpstart held more than 20 informative workshops and immersive sessions with incredible content providers including founders, established alumni, and even former Jumpstart participants. Charlotte Oxnam, McCormick ’23 + founder of Cue the Curves shared, for example, that an early session with David Sieren, the co-head of One Design, was the most valuable session for her to “re-center” and focus on the emotional problem she’s aiming to solve. You can read more about Charlotte’s entrepreneurial journey here.

For Adala Makhulo, Weinberg + SoC ’23, the most valuable workshop was a session on recruiting with Ibraheem Alinur, CEO and co-founder of City Health Tech and previous Jumpstart participant. “This was something we were struggling with during that time so it was great to hear from him as well as ask specific questions related to our company. After the session, we reached out to him and he connected us with his co-founder, Irewole, who is an African international student from Nigeria, which is very similar to me although I’m from Kenya. He offered a lot of insight into being an entrepreneur in the US on a student visa as well as insight into job opportunities post-grad.” You can learn more about Adala and her progress this summer here.

After 10 weeks of programming and lots of pitch practice, all of the teams pitched virtually in closed Zoom sessions to a panel of judges, followed by a Q&A on the morning of August 25, 2021. To read up on our judges, you can view the virtual Demo Day program at thegarage.nu/demodayprogram

We are so proud of the progress every team made over the summer at The Garage, evidenced by their polished and professional pitches. After a short break, it was time for our Demo Day livestream! 

Although we weren’t able to gather an audience of hundreds at The Garage this year, we invited current Jumpstart participants to join us in-person for a small, socially distanced viewing party! We even flew in a few alums of the program to join us, too. The rest of our audience, made up of family, friends, investors, and the Northwestern community, watched online.

We kicked off the event with a warm welcome from associate director of The Garage and Demo Day emcee, Mike Raab and then heard from Heather Aranyi, our Jumpstart program manager, to learn more about the goals and pillars of Jumpstart. Next, we watched the pitches! This year, all 10 teams and their pitches were included in our livestream: 

3 Point Productions is a film production company based in Nairobi, Kenya that creates high quality content for the Youth, by the Youth in Kenya.

8 In The Box Productions is a sports media company helping student athletes monetize their name, image, and likeness through video content.

Acorn Genetics is an at home DNA testing company specializing in private and affordable genetic testing.

bekome is a web platform helping Gen-Z, millennials, and people of color find their right therapist based on personality, lifestyle and cultural fit.

beni is a browser extension that matches an online shopper’s desired clothing purchase with secondhand alternatives.

Cue the Curves is an online platform for plus-size women to find and discuss clothing brands.

InfernoGuard is developing a utility patented wildfire detection and warning system to improve response time and the negative impacts for at-risk communities.

Palette aims to be the DryBar for makeup services, which provides women a way to feel like the most confident version of themselves by offering a makeup service that is dependable, inclusive and convenient.

Rhetoric is an application that provides real-time feedback on spoken communication to develop into a more confident, empathetic, and persuasive communicator. Our mission is to enable personal growth, unlock efficiency, and promote powerful habits through “companion artificial intelligence”.

Talaria aims to make it easier for people to manage the various administrative tasks that follow the death of a loved one such as transferring bills & assets; closing subscriptions or digital accounts; notifying employers, the Social Security Administration, or Veterans Affairs.

After the pitches, we asked the audience to participate in a live vote for an additional Audience Favorite award of $1,000! Then, we were ready to announce the winners and hand out some very big checks! Now, on to the results!

In third place, overall, taking home a check for $2,000 is InfernoGuard! 

In second place, winning $3,000, is beni! 

The audience picked their favorite - InfernoGuard! InfernoGuard took home an additional check for $1,000!

Finally, first place of Jumpstart 2021 Demo Day is Rhetoric!

Rhetoric is founded my Raman Malik, Kellogg ’22. After winning the grand prize at Demo Day, Raman shared that "Jumpstart was an amazing way to spend the summer working on Rhetoric. Not only did we have full access to The Garage, but each week was filled with valuable workshops with mentors and meeting with other teams in the program. Demo Day was a great experience. The team at The Garage worked with us throughout the summer and really helped us up-level our pitch."

Congratulations to all of our teams! We can’t wait to see what you do next. To stay up to date on all of our future events and news about our students, join our monthly newsletter list here

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