From clothing companies like Annie Mulz, Harper Lei and USHAgZ to the environmentally friendly Pure Pest Management, there were a variety of ventures who demoed at last night’s Northeastern Entrepreneurship Expo (NEXPO). Whether they were established and looking for funding, or merely looking for feedback, the event gave local startups the opportunity to share their ideas and network with the Greater Boston community.
Hosted by IDEA, the University’s student-run venture accelerator, the expo is in its second year, spotlighting over two dozen teams with co-founders or members of the management team that are somehow affiliated with Northeastern. Once a month, IDEA awards different companies with a $10,000 grant. They can apply for funding as often as they’d like, and they never need to pay a cent of it back.
Even better? IDEA’s CEO, Chris Wolfel, announced a new Prototype Fund at NEXPO, which will provide up to $2,500 to three teams once a month. The money’s meant to help students piece together a prototype — no business plan required — although Wolfel does hope that after teams build their prototypes, they’ll be encouraged to pitch to IDEA. The fund is a joint effort between IDEA and Northeastern’s Center for Research Innovation.
Moniker Guitars, a custom electric guitar company, was able to build their first prototype thanks to funding from IDEA and launch at last night’s expo. Jo Davenport, founder of women’s clothing line Lily & Ivy, admitted, “Chris has been so, so helpful, and has helped my idea take life.”
Through a grant from the program, clothier Njabini Apparel has been able to create a credit system that will give Kenyan women the ability to make money and start their own business. Splash Score, a Facebook gameification tool, was also able to launch a new rewards program yesterday, while Notely has been given the chance to expand to 15 Northeastern classes, allowing students to access their course material in a way that’s easier to digest.
Marketing agency Influencers@ was at NEXPO, as well, offering good news to students looking for summer plans. They’re now hiring 15 interns to help create marketing campaigns for various brands, brand promotors and bloggers. One of the company’s current clients is PXT Money, and the students interning with Influencers@ have been able to get the experience of developing a marketing campaign from start to finish.
As IDEA continues to flourish, new Boston area businesses will be given the chance to grow. Between their gap funding and newly announced prototype fund, Northeastern’s doing their part to give back to the city’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.