On Thursday, August 30, more than 100 Northwestern staff and faculty, community members, and interested investors came to The Garage for our annual Demo Day, the culmination of the Wildfire Accelerator program, and one of our favorite days of the year.For the last 10 weeks, while much of the Northwestern campus is quiet, The Garage has been bustling with 10 Wildfire teams. Whether it’s pitch practice in The Workspace, laughing during an improv workshop, or weekly Family Dinners, it’s been nothing short of a blast to hang with these bright student entrepreneurs all summer long. We even went to a Cubs game together! Not to mention, many of the teams made some pretty big progress during the summer. No matter what the students were up to all summer, each of them spent the last week of Wildfire perfecting their pitches in preparation for Demo Day, where we gave away $10,000 - big checks included! This year, we split Demo Day into two days. On day one, August 29, we were excited to welcome six esteemed judges, all experienced entrepreneurs and startup superstars, to hear 10 pitches behind closed doors, allowing our teams the opportunity to get plenty of expert feedback. Judges included Yvonne Cheng, Ty Findley, Jackson Jhin, Gerri Kahnweiler, Glenn Krevlin, and Kristi Ross.By splitting Demo Day into two days, that meant our public event was fast paced and fun for the audience.
In total, we had 10 teams pitch at Demo Day.CoCo Health: CoCo Health provides on-site mental wellness support for employers and employees by bringing counselors and providers to the workplace, breaking down barriers for stressed employees to manage stress effectively, and to help reduce the costs of absenteeism and burnout.Crafthome: Crafthome is a platform that guides homeowners through the renovation process by empowering them with the tools needed to turn their house into their home.FanHome: FanHome is a platform for Twitch-viewing parties, connecting gaming enthusiasts who want to host in-home watch parties with others who are looking for a couch with fellow fans.Globe Talk: Globe Talk is a nonprofit that provides a free, virtual international exchange program that connects high school students in technology-driven pen pal relationships to explore different cultures and expand their horizons.Jora: Jora puts electrolytes in their alcoholic cocktails to make you feel less bad the next day.Lineshift: LineShift brings modern manufacturing tools to small and medium sized manufacturers. Through a detailed production process and workforce analysis, we identify and implement high ROI manufacturing technology and provide opportunities to maximize workforce potential.PAL: Empowering the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) community through wearable technology to detect, notify, and reduce the frequency of meltdowns.People6: People6 creates connection by engaging and growing university students’ talents, skills and experience while helping businesses tell their story and articulate their brand.Lens (formerly) SEV7N: Lens enables high schools to empower their students with the skills they need to meaningfully discuss current events without creating controversy.Wingding: Wingding designs and builds formal suits that appeal to college and young professional men: flexible, stylish, lightweight, and machine washable.
After a chance for the audience to go online and pick their favorite pitch, it was time to pass out the checks! Here’s how it went down. Taking third place, and a check for $2,000 was People6. Judges were impressed with the way Kristen, the founder, has figured something out and is willing to give other students the keys to success. Next, taking second place and a check for $3,000 was PAL. The judges all agreed that this team has come up with a practical and usable product in a very hard space. Finally, taking first place and a check for $4,000 was FanHome, and according to the judges, this pitch made them want to be fans.Next, we handed out the check for $1,000 to the audience favorite: LineShift!
Congratulations to ALL the teams that pitched at Demo Day. We can’t wait to see what’s next for you.