Twenty-two ventures came into Northeastern’s Husky Startup Challenge with nothing but an idea. After three months of guidance and support from the University’s Entrepreneurs Club, however, they were able to turn those ideas into minimum viable products ready to be demoed in front Boston’s startup community on Monday night.
“It’s incredible how far they’ve come in a semester,” said Northeastern first-year Matt Voska, co-director of the Husky Startup Challenge.
Hosted by the Entrepreneurs Club, with the help of Northeastern’s Center for Entrepreneurship Education, the D’Amore-McKim School of Business and the school’s venture accelerator IDEA, the Husky Startup Challenge awarded more than $4,500 to students with the most innovative ideas.
Of those innovative ideas was a 100-percent organic breakfast bar that packs an entire shot of espresso. First-years Johnny Fayad and Ali Kothari introduced CoffeeBar, the “best way to have your coffee and breakfast all-in-one” without worrying about any spills or crumbs. The snack attracted the judges’ taste buds, who awarded the $500 Audience Favorite award to the duo.
Judges included Ariel Diaz, CEO and co-founder of Boundless; Abby Fichtner, hacker in residence at the Harvard innovation lab; Scott Bailey, director of partnerships at MassChallenge; Peter Boyce, co-founder of Rough Draft Ventures; and Rohit Gupta, program lead at TechStars.
Northeastern President Joseph Aoun paid a visit, as well, acknowledging the students’ ingenuity. “I think this is creativity in action,” he said. “It embodies the spirit of Northeastern. They don’t just study, they do.”
Aoun’s comment goes for both the new ventures and clubs inspiring them.
“The student-run model is Northeastern’s secret sauce,” said IDEA faculty advisor Dan Gregory, co-director of the Center for Entrepreneurship Education.
And the students proved Gregory right last night. Third-year Rohit Malrani turned his creativity into a new mode of transportation. Last night, he pitched SafeRide Boston, a bus service shuttling students between the Theatre District and Northeastern in an effort to combat drunk driving. He was recognized with the third-place prize of $750.
In second-place behind SafeRide was genius.box, a project-based, STEM-focused monthly subscription box for children delivered straight to parents’ door. Created by fifth-year Kate Pipa and third-year Shivangi Shah, the kit won $1,250.
Winning the first-place, $2,000 prize was first-year Nicholas DePorzio of KrystalBoard, “the writing board of the future.” DePorzio’s goal is to eliminate schools’ blackboards and whiteboards by releasing technology that allows teachers to push a KrystalBoard screen, write and then erase it all with the touch of a button.
“Northeastern spends $38,000 a year maintaining blackboards and whiteboards,” DePorzio said, claiming he could produce classroom-size boards for $25 a piece, which would save Northeastern more $1.1 million in a 30-year lifetime.
“I’m a physics major, so this was fun building in itself,” DePorzio said, following the win. The prize, however, has motivated him to move forward. “This lets me be more interested.”
Third-year Casey Hogan, who was introduced as the Entrepreneurs Club newest president last night, acknowledged she hopes this is just the beginning for the ventures. “I hope you come back next year,” she said. “Stay excited, stay hungry and help us grow.”
After receiving a positive response from the city’s startup community, hopefully the students will do just that.
“Remember the passion you felt tonight,” said first-year and Husky Startup Challenge co-director David Oates. “Remember the excitement you saw in people’s eyes.”
For a look at what you may have missed, check out the slideshow below.