Alumni Highlight: Sara Garver

By: Sara Garver

I remember once when our car stalled in the middle of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. We were moving to San Diego, where my dad was next stationed in the Coast Guard. I was in the car with my mom when an alarm went off – “out of oxygen.” I remember wondering what that could possibly mean - why does a car need oxygen and will I stop breathing? Needless to say, it turned out fine, and we made it through those mountains to our new home in Scripps Ranch. This was my life growing up – moving from place to place, making new friends, and experiencing new cultures across the United States. Now, at 26, I am still exploring new places, learning new things, and meeting new people. However, this time, I am looking for the right company to be my next place to land rather than a Coast Guard base. 

From Virginia Beach to Boston, Startup Institute was the launching pad I needed to dive into the startup world. During my four years at the University of Virginia, I studied Studio Art, Arts Administration, and Urban Studies and ended up uncovering a passion for business. Through the academic lens of nonprofit management, I found I had a talent for marketing, fundraising, program development, and operations. I consulted with nonprofits and small businesses for a few years until I decided I needed to go back to school to further hone my business skills. It was not enough that I was helping organizations grow from the sidelines, rather, I wanted to build businesses from the inside. I came back to Boston to get an MBA from Simmons College and graduated in 2012, just three years after graduating from with my BA in 2009.

This summer, I attended Startup Institute to grow my network, find an innovative company to work in, and to find a team where I could scale an idea meant to change the world. My MBA was excellent for building the foundation and Startup Institute was the structure I built on top of it. I can honestly say the program exceeded my expectations, in ways I didn’t even expect: I grew my network by several multiples, launched a project at Startup Weekend with three SIB colleagues, got exposure to innovative companies I would not have otherwise met, and most importantly confirmed that I am meant to work in the startup ecosystem.