Growing up, I launched businesses from my parents’ basement. By the time I was a high school senior, I was running a thriving IT support company and building websites for dozens of customers. Being an entrepreneur is about exploring the world of ideas, and I chose Northeastern because the co-op program and city of Boston offer precisely that opportunity.
When I arrived on campus in 2008, the Boston-based venture capital firm .406 Ventures was hiring undergraduates to help identify student-run companies they could invest in. Northeastern’s Entrepreneurs Club faculty adviser, Professor Gordon Adomdza, recommended me for the job. I learned about the entrepreneurship and venture capital processes from an investor’s point of view, all while I was a freshman. It was an incredible experience.
A few years later, while president of the Entrepreneurs Club, I came up with the idea for Attend.com. The club’s events drew hundreds of attendees, and I’d look into the sea of faces and wonder, “Who are these students? Are they freshmen? Are they business majors?” So I built a software prototype for a laptop or tablet to serve as a check-in kiosk: Guests signed into an event, and the computer prompted them to share their major and graduation year. From the data, the software calculated audience demographics.
Attend.com is a classic Northeastern entrepreneurship story because it was born within the university’s walls. Our first customer was the Office of Alumni Relations, and the software spread quickly. In March 2013, my business partner, Drew D’Agostino, DMSB’12, and I had no salaries and one customer. Less than 12 months later, we hired our twenty-first employee! What makes the story particularly exciting is that Attend.com landed a $1 million investment from .406 Ventures in June 2013 and now is growing fast.
Northeastern’s faculty and staff have been pivotal supporters. In particular, Director of Communications for Alumni Relations Anthony Donaldson has been a vital coach and mentor. He was one of the first people I pitched Attend.com to, and he’s shared invaluable insights from a technical and career perspective.
The idea of creating something from nothing keeps me driven—that Attend.com is changing the way people work is thrilling to me. If you have the ambition to turn an idea into a reality, Northeastern gives you every tool to do just that.
Who Empowered You?
Behind every Northeastern graduate is a story of empowerment—often, a story about a formative personal or mentoring relationship. Please add your testimonial to the growing collection and share a favorite memory or anecdote about your empower source.
With a scholarship gift to the College of Arts, Media and Design, a proud family honors its alumni—Elizabeth, AMB’16, and Patrick Rivelli, Sr., E’59.
Alumni Jim and Amie Smith share what he calls “our NU DNA.” Eager to influence the future of their alma mater, they recently endowed a scholarship in Amie’s major, journalism, and made a gift to the Dean’s Innovation Fund at the library, where the couple first connected.
Bill Garvey remembers the “wake up call” of those first-quarter Cs, and a courseload so heavy that he “fell behind, overwhelmed.” But through co-op, he laid the foundations of a successful career in the pharmaceutical industry.
Joe Fleming, PAH’70, MS’71, and Chris Ford, DMSB’73, are delivering a healthy dose of mentorship through the Health Sciences Entrepreneurs program in the Bouvé College of Health Sciences.
“My first co-op advisor, Corinne Reppucci—she was Miss Cianci then—was instrumental in getting me a co-op I loved. That was the start of a wonderful career, one that gave me the ‘global mindset’ so essential for our students today.”
“I’m the first college graduate in my family, thanks to the Northeastern supporters who funded my Torch Scholarship.”
For Carla Oblas, director of Northeastern’s Balfour Academy, helping young people in underserved schools has empowered students in their quest for a college education—and it has empowered her along the way.
“I worked in Northeastern’s dining services as a part-time dishwasher and server, and was eventually invited to be a co-op assistant manager. It was the start of an incredible opportunity that far exceeded the typical college experience.”
“Northeastern has been a part of my life from the beginning. My father, William Kneeland Jr., DMSB’67, worked at the university for nearly 30 years, and to me, he is Northeastern.”
S'73, MA'75, PhD'78
“I owe my career satisfaction to co-op and my adviser, Professor Nancy Caruso. As a Northeastern professor, I have hired many wonderful co-op students in the course of almost 25 years.”
“If you haven’t heard of The Husky Ambassadors, you have definitely seen us—the tour guides who strut through campus with prospective students, parents shuffling behind.”
“My degree provided a new level of professionalism, required for advancement in nursing. Northeastern’s innovative Nursing Interim Program influenced my work as a caregiver, manager, and risk taker—and throughout my career, I encouraged creative thinking and educational opportunities for my staff.”
“Professor Adomdza has empowered me to take full advantage of global experiential learning and has helped shape me into the person I am today: a budding entrepreneur prepared through coursework, research, and co-op for whatever opportunities come my way.”
“When I arrived at Northeastern I had very vague ideas about what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to go into medicine but I had no idea where to go or who to go to about getting that kind of mentoring.”
“At age 37, I was a stay-at-home mother of three young children and in the midst of a divorce. I knew I needed an education or I wouldn’t be able to secure a job doing much of anything.”
“Balancing work and school, and being on co-op, has taught me how to live life as an adult. Northeastern’s career-oriented atmosphere changed me. It’s made me more mature.”
“My father-in-law said if I was ever going to marry his daughter, I’d better go to college. Things worked out! Because of the people I met at Northeastern, I had a great career, and I and my late wife, Nancy—also an alum—were married for 37 years.”
“I had been a senior vice president of human resources with a successful corporate career. The day my job was eliminated, in 2007, I looked at my husband and said, ‘I’m going to start my own business and go back to school!’”
“I can still picture her: a petite college grad, not much older than I was—my co-op advisor’s assistant. When I told her I wanted a co-op with a Big Eight accounting firm, she just laughed. ‘With your grades?’”
“I was a Torch Scholar in this incredible program’s second year. My mentor at Northeastern—James Stellar, then dean of the former College of Arts and Sciences—introduced me to research and took me under his wing.”
“As a junior at the business school, I managed to slip into an oversubscribed class on real estate finance taught by Steve Kursh. There weren’t enough chairs, so only the seniors were invited to enroll that semester. Somehow, I stayed.”
“It isn’t often that you encounter a manager who is both brilliant and extraordinarily caring, but that’s exactly what I got in Brenna McCarthy. I did a co-op at John Hancock Funds, where I assisted Brenna in marketing operations.”
“I was discharged from the Army in ’73, when the economy was faltering badly. I had no career direction. Joe Golemme convinced me to enroll at the Graduate School of Professional Accounting, which he both founded and directed.”
“I have wanted to attend Northeastern ever since I watched my dad graduate in Matthews Arena, when I was ten. It was my dream to follow in his footsteps.”
LI'59, UC'62, H'89
“After I received my engineering degree, I went on to University College and took a course in business law with Professor Victor Cohen. He was one of the toughest professors I ever had, but I must tell you, he would really put the law into you.”
“As a ‘double Husky,’ I’ve had some great teacher-mentors whose knowledge and solid advice have propelled my career successes. Professor James Ramos is one, though we’ve only ever met online.”