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Future of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Northeastern Exhibited at NEXPO

On September 28, IDEA hosted the third NEXPO, Northeastern Entrepreneurship Expo, showcasing about 20 student-run ventures to the Northeastern and Boston entrepreneurial community. NEXPO drew an estimated 350 attendees to Northeastern’s Curry Student Center for an evening of networking and celebration of the achievements of the student-run ventures that are supported by IDEA.

The vibrant energy of the crowd, including potential investors, Boston entrepreneurs, Northeastern students and alumni, radiated from NEXPO, drawing in many attendees beyond those who had pre-registered. The student attendees ranged from those in the business school, to engineering students and undergraduates from the College of Art, Media and Design – highlighting the diversity of talents and interests that IDEA strives to support.

The main focus of the night was to provide an opportunity for ventures in varying stages of development – what IDEA calls the “Ready,” “Set,” and “Go” phases of development – “to showcase their successful ventures as well as network with other students, local Boston professionals and potential investors,” said Andrea Ravenelle, IDEA’s Event Manager.

Two business students, Matthew Draper and Kevin Wong, attended NEXPO in the hopes of networking and learning about what some of the ventures offered.

“It’s a great opportunity for us,” said Draper. “Our own initiative, D&W Ventures, aims to provide marketing and promotional strategies to entertainment ventures. NEXPO was a great source of potential partnerships. We met Andrew Rodriguez and Brandon Beneduce from KeeWee Listings and started talking, even set up a meeting. That’s exactly what we hoped to find.”

KeeWee Listings, which was presenting at their first NEXPO, displayed their interactive social website aimed at helping college students post real estate listings in a safe and secure way at no cost.

Andrew Rodriguez of KeeWee Listings explained that he was excited to meet Draper and Wong, who have marketing experience, something that “matches ones of our business needs.”

“It was great to meet people our age who are equally as motivated as us,” said Rodriguez.

Another venture on display at the event was Njabini Apparel. Michael Behan, a third year student and Executive Director, started the company in February 2011. The company aims to create empowerment by supporting disadvantaged women in Njabini, Kenya through provided jobs, which will hopefully extend to positively affect their families and children.

Behan explained that his company is looking to grow and expand. “We’re pushing to scale up and execute a strategic framework, and IDEA is giving us the opportunity to raise the capital to carry that out and create the social impact we aim for,” said Behan.

Nick Kurlas, a Northeastern alumnus and co-founder of SnoworSand, explained that his path to NEXPO and IDEA started when he asked his academic advisor “why is there a Career Services, but nothing for entrepreneurs, people who want to make their own career?” He was directed to Dan Gregory, IDEA’s faculty advisor. From then on, Gregory began acting as SnoworSand’s coach through IDEA and has been for the past two years.

SnoworSand used NEXPO to highlight six of their adventure and culture based trips throughout the world, including Morocco, Turkey, and Spain. The company focuses on partnering with universities abroad to provide affordable weekend destination trips that have “a strong emphasis on cultural engagement, safety and learning.”

Overall, NEXPO provided a welcoming environment for ventures to showcase their work and network within the community. Andrew Rodriguez of KeeWee Listings thought NEXPO was great for his company to “test the waters at Northeastern” and gain some “first time publicity.”

“The event was the perfect place for our venture.”