Over the last three days, Northeastern’s Center for Entrepreneurship Education has been focusing on three fundamental words: educate, incubate and launch. The University has been celebrating Global Entrepreneurship Week, highlighting an inventive spirit largely unparalleled by other institutions, as proven by IDEA’s Northeastern Entrepreneurship Expo held Wednesday night.
“NEXPO was the perfect end to Global Entrepreneurship Week at Northeastern,” said senior Max Kaye, CEO of the student-run venture accelerator.
The 44 companies that presented in the school’s Cabot Athletic Center represented a wide array of industries, ranging from an outdoor solar-powered charging station for cell phones and tablets to an indoor cycling studio. Seasoned entrepreneurs mingled with up-and-comers, who were all in different stages of development.
At the core of it all, however, was confirmation that what the University has set out to do is swiftly coming to life with a renewed entrepreneurial energy.
“We’re starting to see the Entrepreneurs Club and IDEA working together,” said junior Casey Hogan, president of the Entrepreneurs Club. “The ecosystem is working.”
On Tuesday night, the Entrepreneurs Club hosted the Husky Startup Challenge — the culmination of three months’ of students’ hard work building minimum viable products. Four startups were awarded their share of $5,000, and went on to demo at Wednesday’s showcase.
The goal of the Husky Startup Challenge is to equip students with the initial courage and mentorship that’s required to start building the beginnings of a business. At the end of the program, after participants have acquired those skills, they’re encouraged to move onto IDEA, where they can receive additional funding, coaching and resources to launch their company.
Hogan noted that nearly half of the ventures at NEXPO went through the Husky Startup Challenge — evidence that the continuum is working.
“Casey and Max have been stars in making this work together,” acknowledged IDEA’s faculty advisor Dan Gregory, co-director of the Center for Entrepreneurship Education. When asked about the success of the program, he claimed, “It’s all students.”
Victor Dweck, co-founder of Socii, an app that rewards users for sending the tweets and snapping the Instagrams they would anyway, said IDEA has been a phenomenal resource.
“You wouldn’t think the people who run it are students,” he said.
Eli Laipson-Williams of APE Systems, a Betaspring-sprung company using data to develop better athletes, echoed Dweck’s sentiments, saying, “I wouldn’t be where I am without the foundational guidance IDEA has given me.”
With 150 companies already in IDEA’s portfolio, the venture accelerator is just starting to pick up speed.
“I’m amazed by how many new companies are here since I graduated in May, and how far along they’ve come,” said former IDEA CEO Chris Wolfel, who’s now a sales consultant at Yesware.
Prior to graduating in the spring, Wolfel had said he was looking forward to seeing IDEA continue to grow, adding, “It continues to improve.”
And in just one semester, it has.
For a look at what you may have missed, check out the photos below.