The Garage Announces Keyaira Lock Adewunmi as The Director of Entrepreneurship, San Francisco

Press Release
Carly Kramer
Nov 15, 2023
keyaira lock adewunmi

The Garage is thrilled to welcome Keyaira Lock Adewunmi to the team as the Director of Entrepreneurship, San Francisco. As a graduate of both the University of San Francisco and the Kellogg School of Management, Keyaira realized her passion for strategic vision, communication, and storytelling were common threads throughout her personal, professional, and entrepreneurial endeavors.

Prior to joining The Garage SF, Keyaira operated as an intraprenuer in tech, including Twitter and Meta, to pioneer global initiatives that transformed market opportunities into millions in incremental revenue before achieving her MBA at Kellogg and founding her psychedelic consulting practice, Spice & Sage, through Kellogg’s Zell New Venture Fellowship.

Mike Raab, the inaugural Director of Entrepreneurship at The Garage SF and current Executive Director of The Garage [Evanston], couldn’t be more excited to welcome Keyaira to the team to expand upon the existing community he fostered in the Bay Area. “As a Kellogg alum, founder, and veteran of the tech & startup ecosystem in the Bay Area, Keyaira is the perfect addition to The Garage team to expand Northwestern’s presence in Silicon Valley. She’s tasked with building a community of supportive alumni founders, operators, and investors to help each other succeed, and increase Northwestern’s reputation in entrepreneurship and innovation globally,” shared Mike.

Looking ahead, Keyaira has set her sights on intentionally building bridges between investors, alumni founders, tech professionals, and faculty to promote synergistic opportunities that elevate everyone involved. Welcome to the team, Keyaira!

We recently sat down with Keyaira to learn more about her and the future of The Garage SF:
Why The Garage? What drew you to the Director of Entrepreneurship position, especially in regards to the role’s focus on alumni relations?

If you know me, you know I love a theme; I will creative brief the hell out of anything if it means collectively grounding us in our why. So it is not lost on me how thematically synergetic it is to be back in the city that raised me, at the institution that cultivated my innovation acuity, leading The Garage’s strategic vision in San Francisco as the new Director of Entrepreneurship.

Serving in this role as a proud product of the innovation economy encapsulates a theme of coming full circle; I now have the opportunity to cultivate a thriving community that elevates everyone involved using the same spirit of entrepreneurship that I was fortunate to experience. Thus, as an alumni founder myself, who can understand, empathize, and relate to the community I serve, I am honored to give back to the entrepreneurial communities who've given so much to me.

What’s your first order of business as the Director of Entrepreneurship at The Garage SF? What future are you envisioning for The Garage SF?

As a human-centric community builder, I'm eager to expand Northwestern's enterprising community nationally and internationally, starting with the cultivation of a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem in the SF Bay Area. Given my specific focus on serving alumni founders, my first order of business is to deeply immerse myself in the unique pain points, aspirations, and needs of our alumni founders. This immersion will allow me to explore the current state of our entrepreneurial ecosystem and identify opportunities for growth and collaboration.

Looking forward, my vision for The Garage SF is to transform it into a true epicenter of entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley. I envision it becoming renowned for its alumni-driven impact, its diverse and inclusive community, and its continuous growth and innovation. To achieve this vision, I will be focusing on:

  • Cultivating a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem for Alumni Founders, VCs, and Tech Professionals that promotes meaningful connections and collaborative problem-solving.
  • Overseeing proof-of-concept work and business cultivation alongside industry experts to nurture an environment where innovation flourishes and empowerment thrives.
  • Curating strategic marketing, branding, and development initiatives to amplify Northwestern's entrepreneurial culture and impact across Silicon Valley and beyond.

Thus, if you are a Northwestern Alumni Founder in the Bay Area or a VC, Investor, or Tech Professional who resonates with The Garage SF’s mission, I’m eager to connect with you and am here to serve. Let’s maximize our thematic synergies to capture and create more value, together!

You founded your own startup, Spice & Sage, while you were pursuing your MBA at Kellogg. Tell us about your journey building the psychedelic consulting practice.

Embarking on the Spice & Sage journey has been a testament to personal and professional transformation. It all began when I, a tech leader struggling with the crippling effects of social anxiety, was exposed to the healing potential of psilocybin, which are psychoactive mushrooms. This newfound awareness of the efficacy of plant medicine treatment turned my novel curiosity into desperate action, as I found myself on a flight to Mexico for a private psychedelic retreat just a week later.

The journey that preceded can only be described as a spiritual awakening, in every sense. For the first time, I emerged from this experience feeling seen, whole, and self-loved. Given the scarcity of Black women representation in psychedelics, I felt compelled to align my expertise as a brand strategist with my passion for cultural equity and my reverence for plant medicine healing. This sense of duty sparked the inspiration for Spice & Sage, a culture marketing consultancy committed to bridging the gap between Western research, indigenous plant medicine wisdom, and media. Our mission is clear: to serve as a trusted partner to identify and address the unmet needs of diverse audiences in culturally informed ways so our clients can reach the expanded audiences they seek to serve.

Yet, I would be remiss if I did not pay homage to Northwestern’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, as the iterative foundation of our '3C' business model —Cultural Intelligence, Creative Strategies, and Custom Curation – was cultivated throughout The Garage's Activate Program, Kellogg’s New Venture Courses, and the Kellogg Zell Fellowship. These experiences have not only honed my entrepreneurial acumen but also allowed Spice & Sage to find our footing in the nascent Psychedelics industry,

Having won a third-place win at UC Berkeley Haas’ Inclusive Pitch Competition, co-founded Kellogg's inaugural Business of Psychedelic Therapies Conference, and spearheaded peer-reviewed research studies alongside Kellogg professor Dr. Chethana Achar, I’m proud to exist at the intersection of academia and business to be able to thoughtfully contribute to the advancement of industry knowledge.

What are your passions outside of work?

Culture Rules Everything Around Me. My play on Wu-Tang Clan’s “C.R.E.A.M.” is my crowning ode to culture, as culture is my greatest source of inspiration, always leading me towards my most mission-critical work. Whether I’m twirling around the globe as a self-proclaimed Salsa Queen, producing sketch comedy shows that thoughtfully pair social commentary with humor, or curating aesthetically pleasing Airbnb experiences that pay homage to African hospitality, I take pride in crafting experiences that transcend the ordinary in hopes to inspire a more connected, informed, and inclusive reality.

Travel is another passion that fuels me. As an avid adventure seeker, I've ventured across 40 countries and 5 continents, each journey deepening my appreciation for the diverse ways of life that color our world. This exploration is not just about ticking off destinations; it's about the profound connections and insights that have evolved me along the way. For me, culture isn't just a background element—it's the very essence that shapes our experiences, perspectives, and contributions to the world.

What’s one piece of advice you’d share with a current student founder at The Garage? What about an alumni founder?

To the innovative spirits at The Garage, both budding and seasoned, I encourage you to find a balance between ‘effort’ and ‘surrender’. Embrace the understanding that while relentless effort is crucial in entrepreneurship, it may occasionally plateau. Mindful surrender isn't about giving up; it's about remaining present and receptive to what unfolds, much like a bird in flight who must know when to exert force and when to glide gracefully on the breeze.

While this may not resonate with all, I’m a firm believer that when you are rooted in your purpose, the universe will always provide. Success, therefore, is not just about the vigor of our endeavors but it’s also about yielding to the experiences life presents us. Thus, step into your role with confidence, knowing you are exactly where destiny has placed you. If there's one insight to hold close, it's this: A harmonious balance of dedicated effort and the art of letting go is not just a strategy but a way of being that opens doors to infinite possibilities

Please join us in welcoming Keyaira to the team! Schedule office hours with Keyaira here.

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