Undergraduate Entepreneurs: Emily Comstock, Brammy Geduld, Katie Ostazeski

Undergraduate Entepreneurs: Emily Comstock, Brammy Geduld, Katie Ostazeski

SESP undergraduates Emily Comstock, Brammy Geduld and Katie Ostazeski display energy and commitment as they pursue entrepreneurship on campus. Comstock started a nonprofit to help others, Geduld is ramping up a student-run coffee business and Ostazeski leads an aggregate of student businesses called Northwestern Student Holdings.

Emily ComstockEmily Comstock

With the undergraduate research grant she won, this summer Emily Comstock will continue to improve the nonprofit she founded, Cranes for Courage. The rising junior in social policy started Cranes for Courage as a nonprofit to encourage patients at hospitals and mental health clinics.

This summer Comstock is examining the tech startup model and how it can be applied to a nonprofit organization, using Cranes for Courage as a case study. Started in 2014, Cranes for Courage sends people handmade origami cranes with inspiring messages. “The cranes bring moments of relief, comfort and hope to those struggling,” explains Comstock, who reports that Cranes for Courage has been growing at a rapid pace. Her research is intended to make Cranes for Courage as effectively run as possible.

“The patients of our partner hospitals deserve an organization that runs efficiently so they can receive the love and support they need. I am continually inspired by the bravery and courage of the patients to continue this program and hope to bring them and other nonprofits more analysis for how to manage our missions effectively,” says Comstock.  

Brammy GeduldBrammy Geduld

An entrepreneur with a new business on campus,  rising sophomore Brammy Geduld co-founded BrewBike with SESP student Lucas Philips. Through their Indiegogo campaign the two have raised more than $10,000 for their venture to sell cold-brew coffee from a roving bike.

“I am interested in entrepreneurship because it allows me to pursue what I am most passionate about while also gaining invaluable experience,” says Geduld. “Entrepreneurship invites individuals to lean into discomfort and work towards achieving their goals, regardless of how risky. As a freshman in college, I never thought I would be able to start my own business from the ground up with no prior experience. However, being an entrepreneur grants me the freedom to pursue my passion without worrying about being too young or inexperienced.” 

Originally Geduld and Philips planned to start a bricks-and-mortar coffee shop after hearing Neal Sales-Griffin (BS09) speak about starting barber shops during his time at Northwestern. They visited University of Chicago student-run coffee shops and were inspired to create community spaces as well as experiential learning programs. “We saw student-run businesses as a win-win for the students and the university,” she notes. 

Then the pair switched to BrewBike as a way to improve the daily routine of Northwestern coffee drinkers with Northwestern’s first mobile coffee shop. “BrewBike’s goals are to provide students with delicious coffee and tea in a convenient, accessible way. We hope to also create a experiential learning program, similar to that of Chicago’s, in entrepreneurship and hospitality,” Geduld says, noting that she and Philips are working with seven other undergraduates.

Geduld, who transferred to SESP to major in learning and organizational change (LOC), is excited to begin using the skills she will learn to help BrewBike succeed. “LOC teaches its students about real-world experimental learning and the ways in which organizations grow and change; these skills will be invaluable,” Geduld says.

Katie OstazeskiKatie Ostazeski

A rising senior in learning and organizational change, Katie Ostazeski has made her mark on Northwestern as CEO of Northwestern Student Holdings (NSH), a company comprised of several small, student-run businesses on campus. She joined NSH her freshman year in order to put concepts she leaned in class into practice.

“I’m interested in entrepreneurship because I enjoy executing and creating structure, process and ultimately an entire organization where there wasn’t one before,” says Ostazeski. “I think rather than trying to change a system that already exists, entrepreneurship is exciting because you get to create the system from the ground up exactly as you want it, and starting early with a small organization it’s a lot easier to make quick changes in response to what is and is not working. Additionally, the basic idea of having a lot of agency and getting to create your own reality is really exciting.”

“In NSH you get a the chance to come up with an idea for high-growth company, figure out how to implement it, implement it, assess the results, and then update your idea based on your learnings and go through the whole process again,” Ostazeski explains. Her goal as CEO this year is to dramatically grow portfolio company profits “in a process-oriented way such that the growth is sustainable for coming years and not reliant on the individuals currently in their roles.”

Ostazeski has found her LOC major to be helpful in many ways. “Systems thinking, which is taught in LOC 310, really changed my way of thinking about the world. It’s a simple concept—any single thing is related to a bunch of other things and therefore has downstream implications, but many people fail to consider it. One of the great things about entrepreneurial organizations is that they are very nimble, and you’re always trying new things to see what will work to establish and grow your business, and in making those decisions systems thinking can be critical,” Ostazeski says.

“Additionally, I’ve learned a ton about how people ‘work,’ which has helped me in all aspects of my life, but ultimately a lot of what successful entrepreneurship relies on is having a productive team, so understanding how people think and interact with one another is really helpful in ensuring the team’s interpersonal and therefore business success,” Ostazeski adds.

Photo of Emily Comstock by Daniel Tian courtesy of Daily Northwestern

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 6/25/16