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People Power

Kristen Sanders’ digital marketing startup puts college students to work for local businesses.

kristin sanders
People6 founder Kristen SandersImage: Shane Collins

Spring 2019
Innovation

During the summer after her sophomore year, Kristen Sanders was interested in exploring marketing but couldn’t find a paid opportunity. “And being a first-generation college student and financially independent, there was no way I could take an unpaid internship,” she says.

Feeling defeated, she stopped into the then-new Ovo Frito Café in Evanston and, on a whim, asked if they needed help developing an online presence. “They basically hired me on the spot,” says Sanders, a senior learning and organizational change major from Norco, Calif.

From that start Sanders built People6, a digital marketing agency that employs college students to create and execute holistic marketing solutions and research for businesses and entrepreneurs. People6 has hired more than 30 students to complete nearly 20 projects, ranging from research for New Founders PAC to a new website design and branding plan for Roycemore School, near the Evanston campus. Since April 2018 the firm has earned about $100,000 in revenue.

Sanders, who was one of four Northwestern students listed in Chicago Inno’s “25 Under 25” for 2018, has gotten support from the Farley Center for Entrepreneurship and Northwestern’s student startup incubator, The Garage. She developed the company primarily in The Garage’s 10-week summer incubator.

She also participates in the Propel Program, a collaboration between The Garage and Northwestern’s Innovation and New Ventures Office to empower women and minority students to pursue entrepreneurial endeavors. In the fall she was one of eight participants in the program’s New York experience, which included conversations with alumni business leaders, a tour of the New York Stock Exchange and visits to the New York Times and Goldman Sachs.

“The best advice I heard was ‘No one really has it figured out,’ ” says Sanders. “Holding on to that principle is such a big peace-giving statement for so many people, especially at Northwestern.”

Sanders, for her part, has taken an active role in supporting young women of color by encouraging them to apply for Northwestern’s entrepreneurial resources.

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