Northeastern University’s Venture Accelerator IDEA recently reached a monumental milestone in their mission to coach, fund, and launch ventures: in February, IDEA completed its largest round of Gap Funding that provided six ventures with $10,000 to overcome a specific gap in each of their businesses. The bi-monthly Gap Fund IDEA provides ventures the opportunity to pitch their business to IDEA’s Funding Board to receive feedback and funding for critical businesses needs. The increase in ventures applying for and receiving Gap Funding not only demonstrates the quality and innovation of the ventures, but also the caliber of the coaches who help the ventures develop their business strategy.
Ventures apply for IDEA’s Gap Fund for assistance in taking their business to the next level, whether it be launching a go-to-market strategy, implementing beta-testing, or completing a phase of product development. Maia Kaye, IDEA’s Investment Officer, and the Investment Committee thoroughly evaluate each venture’s business plan and gap they hope to fill with the fund. “Providing ventures visibility into the Gap Funding process helps ensure that their application is as strong as possible and that their gap is well-articulated and maximizes impact in reaching tangible milestones,” Kaye explains, “It’s exciting to see ventures matriculate through IDEA’s Stagegate Process* constantly validating and pivoting along the way.”
Advisory Board member Ken Coleman explained the satisfaction of volunteering to help Northeastern students, graduates and faculty reach the next phase of their business strategy. “These ventures are bootstrapping [their businesses], and Gap Funding can really make a difference in helping them achieve their next milestone,” Coleman said, “There is a tremendous amount of work by the IDEA coaches and investment committee to help prepare a venture for Gap Funding. By the time a venture makes it to Gap Funding, they have a solid business plan.”
The overall funding process is invaluable, as it requires the ventures to create a viable business plan that identifies the current position of the business, where the business is headed, and how $10,000 would accelerate their mission.
Derivative/d, one of the six ventures that received Gap Funding in February, plans to use the funds for order fulfillment and customer acquisition. The company offers the first product in the world that allows companies to buy warehouse services directly over the web. Co-founders Praful Mathur and James Steinberg worked with IDEA Coach Matt Saitta to refine their business strategy and prepare their proposal for the intense Gap Funding pitches. “IDEA’s coaching process was great,” Steinberg says, “Matt helped us refine our pitch and figure out the best way we can provide value to companies. Now we have several companies ready to work with us.”
The venture-coach relationship is also fulfilling for the dedicated team of coaches, including Saitta, who helped Derivative/d progress through the Gap Funding process. “Working and learning alongside smart and passionate teams to grow disruptive businesses is what makes coaching most rewarding for me,” Saitta said, “Praful and James are a prime example of such a team.”
Through IDEA’s self-selecting Stagegate Process, IDEA coaches and faculty work diligently to support the learning and growth of ventures. Although the Gap Fund provides monetary value to the process, the tireless efforts of the IDEA team help the ventures mature enough to reach this significant milestone. The growing number of ventures applying for and receiving Gap Funding proves the dedication of the coaches and the quality of the ventures launching through IDEA. Ken Coleman perfectly summarizes the contagious energy at IDEA: “It’s a joy to be involved with these young people who have such passion for entrepreneurship and whose business savvy far exceeds their years.”
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*Stagegate Process – IDEA’s self-selecting process that ventures travel through with the help of their coach. As they move from stage to stage, each venture has access to additional resources.