Undergraduate Entrepreneurs: Garrett Goehring, Lucas Philips, Connor Regan

Undergraduate Entrepreneurs: Garrett Goehring, Lucas Philips, Connor Regan

Garrett Goehring

SESP undergraduates Garrett Goehring, Lucas Philips and Connor Regan display a spirit of entrepreneurship and a zest for innovation. Goehring fosters campus entrepreneurship as a University Innovation Fellow, Philips is starting a student-run coffee business, and Regan is launching a drone start-up. All are boosting their understanding of entrepreneurship by majoring in learning and organizational change.

Garrett Goehring
Goehring (above) was selected for the University Innovation Fellows program, a nationwide effort to develop leadership for change and entrepreneurship in higher education. As a fellow, he has been “studying the Northwestern entrepreneurship ecosystem” to find areas for improvement, and he hosts meetings for “entrepreneurial stakeholders” to discuss solving these problems.

At Northwestern he seeks to create a “safe and accessible space where those who want to engage in entrepreneurship feel welcome and can engage in entrepreneurship with the support of the community.” He also wants to spread the awareness of entrepreneurship and innovation on campus and help students realize that entrepreneurship and innovation are useful in any field.

“After struggling to find the resources on campus and get involved with the entrepreneurship community my freshman year, I made a promise to myself that I would do everything I could to make sure that other students did not have the same challenges getting involved. Additionally, I saw this as an opportunity to give back to the community that has supported me throughout my entrepreneurial endeavors over the last three years,” says Goehring, a junior.

At the same time, Goehring is working to succeed with his current startup, Taproom, and learn as much about innovation and entrepreneurship as he can. “In the longer term, I would like to mesh my passion for innovation and entrepreneurship with my knowledge of LOC in order to help organizations be able to innovate better,” he notes.

Lucas Philips and Brammy Geduld
Lucas PhilipsPhilips and Geduld are spearheading the launch of a student-run coffee business called BrewBike on campus this fall. Both came to Northwestern with the goal of starting a business, and they originally landed on the idea of a bricks-and-mortar coffee shop after an EPIC entrepreneur club meeting where they talked to Neal Sales-Griffin (BS09), who started multiple barber shops while studying at SESP.

“After communicating with a handful of these student-run businesses, visiting all four of University of Chicago’s student-run coffee shops and hearing about the invaluable benefits student-run businesses offer both the University as well as the student body, we decided to move forward with the idea,” Philips explains

Switching from initial plans for a coffee shop at the library, the founders decided to start BrewBike as a way to dispense on-the-go cold-brew coffee from a roving tricycle on campus. The coffee will come from Chicago-based coffee company Limitless High Definition Coffee & Tea, and an Indiegogo fundraising campaign is helping to get the business started. Philips and Gelduld are working with a leadership team of seven students, including SESP student Jacob Calthorpe.

BrewBike's goals are to provide students with a delicious product and to create an experiential learning program in entrepreneurship and hospitality. “We’ve come a long way, and have developed our idea into a clear goal,” says Philips. “Our secondary goal is to foster a holistic experiential learning program about the hospitality industry. As we continue to move through this planning stage, it looks as if our structure will provide our peers with a learning experience unattainable within the walls of a classroom.”

Connor ReganConnor Regan
With a team of about 10 students, Regan just launched a startup called Eighty Nine Robotics to build “the world's first fly-from-anywhere indoor drone.” The product, called Rook, “allows users to see what’s going on in their home from anywhere in the world right from their smartphone,” says Regan, a senior. Users can decide how to use this drone technology, such as to investigate home disturbances, monitor pets or check home appliances. In February the group started a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.

“The idea for Rook came about out of frustration with what the drone market currently offers consumers. Most drones have complicated ‘roll, pitch and yaw controls,’ lacking intuitive controls that would be useful for everyday consumers. We wanted a drone that was easy to set up and fly,” he explains.

“I've been interested in entrepreneurship and the idea of starting my own business for a long time – since childhood actually,” Regan says. “I had lots of business ventures growing up that served as fantastic learning opportunities for me, but I think the coolest one was the vending company I owned and operated during middle school. On a loan from my parents, I purchased a few vending machines and ended up scaling my business to multiple accounts and thousands of dollars in annual revenue. I was able to learn about relationship management, finance, inventory management and so much more at a really early age and I've had a passion for business ever since.” At Northwestern, Regan has worked for a number of startups and also run a few of his own.

“As a student entrepreneur, my number one goal is my own learning. My time here at Northwestern is unfortunately really limited, so I've done everything I can to really maximize my learning in a hands-on way,” Regan says. With Rook in particular, his goal is to raise $100,000 by the end of the Indiegogo campaign. “We met our $20,000 goal just one day after launching our campaign and the momentum has been fantastic so far. The feedback we've been receiving from backers has been awesome to read, and we've received press mentions from Inc. magazine, Crain's Chicago Business, Tech Cocktail, NBC and more.”

Learning and organizational change
SESP’s learning and organizational change program is helping all of these students develop skills and background for entrepreneurship and change leadership. “It has given me both the skills and knowledge necessary to drive change more successfully,” Goehring says of the program, commenting that he is seeing concepts he studied in class play out firsthand. “It has been a great experience being able to not only study change in the classroom, but to also get the experience of driving change.”

“SESP has played a huge role in my development as an entrepreneur,” Regan notes. “As a learning and organizational change major, I've developed a toolkit for analyzing businesses from a people-centric lens that I think is lacking in many organizations. Case study-based classes like Professor Douthit's Studies in Organizational Change have helped me learn to break down complex, multifaceted business problems.” He also credits his practicum experience at Starter League, a Chicago startup founded by LOC alumnus Sales-Griffin, with being "a big part of my journey as an entrepreneur. ... It also taught me just how empowering and exciting it is to work on a small team that's really passionate about solving problems.”

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 5/5/16