At the beginning of the fall semester, students dove into the Husky Startup Challenge with an idea. Fueled by a relentless entrepreneurial energy, however, the participating pool transformed their ideas into 19 different ventures — all of which were put on display at Northeastern Tuesday night.
“The amount of things I’ve seen today that didn’t exist at the beginning of the semester is phenomenal,” acknowledged Nick Naraghi, president of Northeastern’s Student Government Association.
Hosted by the University’s Entrepreneurs Club, with the help of Northeastern’s Center for Entrepreneurship Education, the D’Amore-McKim School of Business and the school’s student-run venture accelerator IDEA, the Husky Startup Challenge awarded $5,000 to students with minimum viable products exemplary of three months’ of hard work.
Attendees applauded the efforts of Stowaway, the “AirBnB of storage, pairing those who need storage with those who have it.” The startup, launched by Chris Touma and Brian Schwartz, won the $500 Audience Choice Award.
As far as resources go, though, funding is only the beginning. Prior to announcing the third-place team, Dan Gregory, co-director of the Center for Entrepreneurship Education, told students the University will be introducing an entrepreneurship minor next year, as well as a student-run design agency out of the College of Arts, Media and Design to support ventures going through the Husky Startup Challenge and IDEA.
Gregory piled on the good news by announcing the third-place winner: Curbview, an open parking spot location and sensor application that’s making it easier for city drivers to find parking. The team — comprised of Curtis Burrowes, Devon Grodkiewicz, Nick Materise and Oleg Vaskevich — walked away with $1,000.
In second-place behind Curbview was PicME, a search engine helping users quickly and easily find a trusted photographer in their area. Created by Olin Nelson, the site won $1,500.
Awarded the $2,000 first-place prize, however, was second-year Ian Carlson. He built Dash, the startup “bringing electric transportation to a longboard near you.”
Carlson, in disbelief after the win, said he started trying to solve this “first and last mile problem” in June. “Public transportation only brings you so close to where you need to go,” Carlson noted, adding Dash is an efficient, convenient alternative for riders to finish the final mile of their commute with.
Carlson will be using the newly-granted financing to develop the next prototype of his longboard kit. He will also begin working more closely with a machinist to build some of the parts, before building out his team.
Judges who helped Carlson nab the win included: John Piermarini, founder of Sweet Idea; Patricia Nolan-Brown, author of Idea to Invention; Bill Kenney, founder of Test My Pitch; Ester Chewning, co-op coordinator at Northeastern; and Jacob Mulligan and Pratik Agarwal, partners at Rough Draft Ventures.
To Hugh Courtney, dean of the D’Amore-McKim School of Business, however, it didn’t matter who took home prizes.
“You all won,” Courtney said. “Whether you [got] the first-place check or not, this will still be one of the most memorable experiences you will have at Northeastern.”
Yet, hopefully the first memorable experience of many. As Husky Startup Challenge Co-director Matt Voska urged the students, “Take what you learned here and apply it to your future ideas.”
For a look at what you may have missed, check out the slideshow below.