Picture young, talented entrepreneurial-minded students showcasing their own businesses to their peers and industry professionals. NEXPO, Northeastern’s entrepreneurship expo, allowed students to do just that. On Wednesday February 9th, IDEA, NU’s venture accelerator, hosted the second NEXPO, held in the west addition of the Curry Student Center. The event attracted Northeastern students, faculty and staff as well as professionals and those part of Boston’s entrepreneurial community.
A celebration of the innovative student ventures working with IDEA, NEXPO featured exhibition-style tables set out to showcase businesses ranging from clothing lines to food distributors, travel companies to drink deal finders (a popular service for the average college student). The event was an amazing opportunity for ventures, clubs and other organizations to show off their amazing businesses or services and network with those in attendance.
“This year’s NEXPO was an amazing experience. Compared to last year, the draw this time around was nearly double,” said IDEA CEO Michael Hans. “After months of behind-the-scenes work and planning, it was exciting to see it all come together as the go-to event for Northeastern entrepreneurs.”
Pardees Safizadeh, a Boston College grad who currently heads social media for Greenhorn Connect, who also had a table at the event, said she was “impressed with the high level of professionalism” demonstrated by the young students – a trait she attributed to the co-op program at Northeastern. She also said, “The night was really successful.”
Networking with many of the students in attendance, this level of professionalism and maturity was apparent. These students have focus and passion, and aren’t afraid to go for what they set out to accomplish. Sophomore Lucas Bancroft-Baer and freshman Abhishek Thota, representing Deft Aesthetics with a few others, are a true match made in entrepreneurial heaven. Both DJs, they said they met randomly and happened to have a lot in common, and from there decided to start a clothing company together. They are now working with IDEA to develop a concrete business plan.
The highlight of the evening was when Ari Taube of Mini Pops gave the keynote speech. Mini Pops (a gluten-free alternative to popcorn) is popped sorghum grain, which Taube and his brother/business partner Reuben took and created eight delicious flavors with. As someone who started his career as a “drug dealer” – pharmaceuticals, that is – Taube offered the crowd some insight as to how he got into the food manufacturing business.
“It hit me like a ton of bricks. I was looking at everyone else to support me when I realized – I am the dictator of what my future holds,” he said. “That’s where it all began for me.”
He emphasized the importance of creating your own future and taking matters into your own hands, but also the risks that one faces when starting a business.
“An entrepreneur is someone out there own their own. There’s no handbook to teach you how to avoid the pitfalls, and you can’t trust someone’s advice if they have a vested interest in the outcome of your venture,” Taube advised. “Utilize resources like IDEA at the university, because they are here to help you.”
Sound advice from a guy who knows what he’s talking about.
The night was another great success and proud moment for IDEA and all of the exhibiting ventures. “I’m proud of what the IDEA team put together and I’m proud of our ventures for successfully demonstrating the innovation that’s coming out of Northeastern,” said Hans.