At a school with over 16,000 undergraduates like Northeastern, cross-pollination between departments and organizations isn’t easy to enforce. “Design students keep to design students, business students to business students,” says Ryan Johnson, who’s been working with Bret Siarkowski to develop a solution: VentureCrowd.
VentureCrowd is an online portal focused on connecting ventures with entrepreneurially-minded talent. The platform spun out of Northeastern during Global Entrepreneurship Week, and is in partnership with the University’s student-run venture accelerator IDEA, the Entrepreneurs Club and the Center for Research Innovation.
“We wanted to bridge these silos,” Johnson admits. “We really just wanted to help students, professors and alumni connect.”
Johnson and Siarkowski are both Northeastern alumni, who have been serving as mentors to students in the community. After swapping stories about their experiences, the overarching theme was “young entrepreneurs who give up too soon.” If a student on the hunt for developers couldn’t find one, they’d put their project on hold—oftentimes abandoning what could make for an innovative business all together.
Users have three options on VentureCrowd: build a team, join a team or be awesome.
Those interested in building a team can search through the talent database. Individuals are divvied up by skill sets, ranging from technical to creative, and companies can follow prospective candidates, endorse them or be led directly to their social media pages. On the flip side, talent can search through a variety of jobs at local startups, follow the companies they’re interested in and request an interview through VentureCrowd. Current companies on the platform include Apifia, Gradeable and USpin.
Boston University and a few other local schools have already contacted Johnson asking how they can bring their own version of VentureCrowd to campus. “We want to make sure it’s successful at Northeastern before we’re launching at other universities,” Johnson admits, claiming they’re still working on developing a mentorship module to encourage Northeastern alumni to venture back to campus and mentor young entrepreneurs.
After launching the beta site in October, Johnson says he kept hearing, “I can’t believe we didn’t have this before,” from students. “It really means a lot to me,” Johnson admits, referencing a user who emailed him personally to say he not only found the exact job opportunity he was looking for through VentureCrowd, but that he was later employed.
“As a mentor, that’s all we really want,” Johnson says. “To have students become successful entrepreneurs.”
For a closer look at VentureCrowd’s launch, check out the team’s photos from Global Entrepreneurship Week below.