During his first year at Northeastern, physics major Nick DePorzio came up with an idea to revolutionize classroom blackboards and whiteboards. He designed a prototype writing surface that requires no cleaning or replacement chalk or markers, and from there KrystalBoard was born. DePorzio had the technical skills, but needed some guidance in making his idea a reality, so he turned to the Northeastern Entrepreneurship Club’s Husky Startup Challenge last spring—an experience that propelled him forward toward success. We asked DePorzio to expand on how he started KrystalBoard and the lessons he’s learned along the way.
What made you start your business and how did you get to where you are now?
It was actually borne out of frustration, really. I was sitting in class one day, and after a long period of my professor writing and erasing on the chalkboard, what was supposed to be an equation just looked like some kind of cryptic combination of alphabet soup and The Matrix. So I started thinking up a new kind of writing board that didn’t require any erasing; instead, it would just erase itself. In fact, I attended a Northeastern Entrepreneurs Club meeting later that day and realized submissions for the Husky Startup Challenge were due that night. So I participated in HSC and actually won the challenge at the end of the semester. After that, I gained more interest in the business concept, I began networking and connected with IDEA, and ever since I’ve been working on a patent for the product.
What were the biggest lessons you learned while trying to build your business?
I’ve put so much work into bringing my business idea to life, but it’s been challenging to figure out how much to talk about my it and not have the idea get ripped off. That said, it’s very important to find people to work alongside you who you can trust and whose knowledge and skills complement your own.
How has Northeastern helped you along the way?
I started Northeastern as a physics major with a passion to learn more about this subject, and I’ve found my education thus far to be exciting and enjoyable. I’ve truly felt supported to explore and expand my interests. Having a product-based company—particularly a technology-based product—means you have to be committed to learning the science of your product. If you aren’t excited to do that, to learn as much as you can, then I think you will lose interest in your product and your business will quickly slip away.