Jumpstart Demo Day 2023

Celebrating Innovation, Growth, and Success!
Event Recaps
The Garage
Aug 23, 2023
A group of Garage Team members pose with Jumpstart funding checks for each of their Team programs.

Celebrating Innovation, Growth, and Success!

By: Dani Savin

The anticipation was palpable as The Garage’s Pre-Accelerator program, Jumpstart, reached its highly anticipated Demo Day. This year, the event seamlessly blended in-person and virtual engagement, uniting a diverse audience of guests, viewers, and esteemed judges. As the stage was set, 11 exceptional student-founded teams took center stage, pitching their groundbreaking startups and competing for a coveted prize pool of non-dilutive funding.

Thanks to a generous one-time donation, this year’s $10,000 prize pool was raised to a grand total of $30,000 split between first, second, third and audience favorite winners! Check out a recording of the live stream below to watch each team pitch in-full!

Over the span of 10 transformative weeks, The Garage played host to an array of immersive workshops, team building outings, inspirational speakers, and invaluable mentoring sessions. These experiences left an indelible mark on the 30+ dedicated students who dedicated their summer to refining and developing their innovative ventures.

We’d like to extend our gratitude to our distinguished content providers and mentors of Northwestern alumni, industry luminaries, and visionary startup founders. Their generosity in sharing their profound expertise during the program’s numerous events undoubtedly enriched the journey of our aspiring entrepreneurs.

On the morning of August 23rd, the excitement reached its peak as our Jumpstart teams took the stage to pitch their ideas to an esteemed panel of judges, including Kristina Chapple, Director at 11 Tribes Ventures; Landon Campbell, General Manager at Drive Capital; Michael Cruz, CTO and Co-Founder at Protégé; and Stephen Ross, Principal at HPA. The judges then engaged each team in 5 minutes of Q&A, asking insightful questions and sharing their expertise with the student teams – ultimately making the decision on the teams who would take home the first, second, and third place prizes.

But the pinnacle of the event was yet to come. As the sun set, the teams geared up for the main attraction – the Demo Day Public Showcase. With fervor and finesse, they unveiled the remarkable milestones achieved over the summer and beyond, offering a glimpse into the future they were working tirelessly to shape.

Let’s take a closer look at the eleven exceptional teams and their groundbreaking startups:

  1. SPLIT provides college students with cheap rides to the airport by grouping those traveling at similar times.
  2. Vaulterra leverages Enhanced Rock Weathering to remove atmospheric carbon dioxide and support farmers.
  3. Borrough is a rental marketplace to share household items with neighbors in your own building; think Airbnb but for items within your home like a drill, air mattress, and vacuum.
  4. Roete is a software tool that streamlines the corporate giving process for small and medium enterprises to maximize the impact of their donations.
  5. hostU matches students who are looking to sublet their place or find a place to stay: our matching algorithm verifies university-affiliation and sends users direct matches.
  6. RelationTrip is a dedicated place for people to grow their relationships and save the unique experiences shared.
  7. Envo is a sustainability company that offers innovative alternatives for single-use plastic products.
  8. Spherical is an engaging mobile app that helps users make meaningful connections and continue the momentum to build stronger networks.
  9. Kitchen Kapital provides accessible and tailored financing options for small foodservice owners with alternative credit scoring using Data/ML.
  10. Navi is a companion app that aids blind pedestrians in safely crossing the street.
  11. OLYMPUS is a social fitness platform that enables weightlifters to analyze key metrics, share their progress, and engage with a global community of athletes.

With the audience’s anticipation reaching a crescendo, votes were cast for the coveted Audience Favorite Prize, culminating in a resounding announcement. The esteemed accolade, and a $3,000 prize, was clinched by none other than hostU – a testament to the profound impact they made on the crowd.

In the winners’ circle, OLYMPUS secured third place, claiming a $8,000 check. Scott Tsangeos, founder of the startup, shared that “Winning third place and $8,000 at Demo Day has left us feeling very motivated to keep building Olympus. We have an unbelievable team and we’re excited to share it with the world!”

hostU, a formidable contender, secured second place – earning a well-deserved $9,000 check. Founder Bella Le Sage shared, “We’re so excited to have had such a great end to the summer! We’re grateful to The Garage for this opportunity and we’re excited to expand with this additional funding!”

And finally, Borrough was announced to have clinched the top prize – a remarkable $10,000 check. In a display of genuine gratitude, co-founder Rahul Srivathsa expressed that, “Winning first place at Demo Day feels great and we’re very excited to have had the opportunity to tell Borrough’s story and share it with the world. We’ve made a lot of great progress over the summer and taking home the grand prize will help us make improvements to our product and invest more into our go-to-market efforts for the pilots we’re planning to launch this fall.” Borrough co-founder Elliot Hall added, “We’d like to thank the donor for the additional funding – it was an amazing surprise!”

To all participating teams, a resounding congratulations is in order! The showcase was a tremendous success, leaving us eager to witness the transformative strides that await in the years ahead. The future shines bright, thanks to the innovative spirit and unwavering dedication displayed by these remarkable young entrepreneurs.

Dani is an incoming freshman at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, studying Journalism and RTVF at the The College of Letters and Sciences. Dani joined the team at The Garage to help facilitate the 2023 Jumpstart Pre-Accelerator summer program, working as a key pillar of the community to assist in daily operations and event execution, curate content for digital, print, and video publication, and strengthen community bonds.

About the Author