Nestled in the depths of Hayden Hall on the expansive Northeastern University campus lies a small but innovative accelerator program. The program, IDEA, is leading the charge at Northeastern University’s Center of Entrepreneurship Education and is one of our 50 on Fire education category winners for 2017.
Founded in 2010 by six Northeastern University alumni, IDEA looks to cultivate students’ and recent graduates’ as well as faculty’s and staff’s entrepreneurial spirits with the help of coaches, mentors, service providers and eventually funding to get their ideas launched. This week, I was lucky enough to get an in-depth look at where the magic happens.
The 1,000 square feet space has two long windows spanning half the perimeter of the space, which Katelin Murdock, CEO of IDEA dubbed, “the Fishbowl” as a constant stream of passersby stop to peek inside. Inside this fishbowl (of course, not all at once) resides a management team comprised of 29 undergraduates and a coaching staff of 32 people ready to lend their minds to the young entrepreneurs enrolled in the program.
Check out some pictures of the space down below.
The program currently has approximately 365 ventures actively working to solve different problems, as the program is industry agnostic. ”Every industry you can think of is represented here,” said Murdock, which also means that students across all majors are working with IDEA.
Every other week IDEA holds a new venture orientation, where potential entrepreneurs can join, present their idea and learn about how to get started. No idea is ever turned away as they take an “open-funnel approach” to ideas and will help even if they’re not quite ready for the program, Murdock said.
As for how long the program lasts, while calling themselves Northeastern University’s “venture accelerator,” Murdock said that ventures can go through the program at any pace they like, working on their venture full-time or even taking a break from it to focus on classes or work. Murdock recalled one startup that comes from the program, Eat Your Coffee, who went through the program from their freshman year to their senior year.
Strewn across the top perimeter of the office are ventures’ logos which represent the ones that have launched, meaning that these ventures have raised over $200,000 in external funding or have a steady enough revenue stream to support themselves, according to Murdock. Notable launched ventures include Mavrck, DRINKmaple, U-Turn and others.
While IDEA is the accelerator program, many students on the management team also participate in other organizations on Northeastern’s campus that support entrepreneurship, such as Generate: the student-led product development studio, Scout: the student-led design studio, NU Impact Investing, or the Entrepreneur’s Club.
Under the umbrella of the Northeastern University’s Center of Entrepreneurship Education, the student-run entrepreneurship programs run themselves with full autonomy over how their programs operate. “I think that’s pretty amazing,” said Murdock, “they’re here to help us but they’re not here to tell us what to do.”
For students to get involved in the IDEA management team, applications are opened up at the end of each semester to hire for the beginning of the following semester.