North­eastern alumnus Reuben Taube, ’05, MBA’10, and his brother Ari have invented a new gluten-​​free snack that is well on the way to making a big national splash.

Mini Pops, made of air-​​popped sorghum grain, can be found on shelves in spe­cialty foods stores and Whole Foods Mar­kets throughout the country. And one of the keys to this suc­cess, say the two entre­pre­neurs, has been the sup­port they’ve gotten from the Inter-​​Disciplinary Entre­pre­neur­ship Accel­er­ator (IDEA) pro­gram at North­eastern University.

The pro­gram, which helps stu­dents and alumni create, develop and accel­erate their busi­nesses through coaching, men­toring and gap funding, pro­vided the brothers with con­sulting advice and $10,000.

The duo pur­chased an auto­mated pack­aging machine with the money from IDEA. As Reuben, who cre­ated the busi­ness plan for Mini Pops in an entre­pre­neur­ship course, put it, “Now we can speed up the oper­a­tion, approach larger dis­trib­u­tors and keep up with demand.”

Equally valu­able was the free advice, said Ari, who received tips on how to drive more traffic to Mini Pops’ web­site from a search engine opti­miza­tion expert.

When you’re starting a busi­ness, there are always so many ques­tions,” Ari said. “Student-​​entrepreneurs or fac­ulty mem­bers who have con­nec­tions in the industry are there to give you objec­tive answers.”

Reuben praised Northeastern’s entre­pre­neur­ship pro­gram for teaching him how to run a busi­ness. “I learned how to market and sell prod­ucts, how to make finan­cial pro­jec­tions and under­stand scaling and fixed costs,” he said.

The brothers plan to meet with poten­tial investors after the second annual IDEA Invest­ment Forum on campus on April 14. The com­pany, Ari esti­mates, could be worth as much as $1 mil­lion in the next year. Fac­ulty advi­sors and IDEA stu­dent leaders have high hopes for the tasty treat, which con­tains fewer calo­ries, less fat and more pro­tein than pop­corn, and comes in vari­eties including baby white cheddar, little lemon pepper and itsy bitsy chili cheese.

I’ve spent many decades working with entre­pre­neurs and I can tell you that these two guys have what it takes,” said senior aca­d­emic spe­cialist Dan Gre­gory, a fac­ulty advisor for the ven­ture accel­er­ator pro­gram. “I’ve watched them build the oper­a­tion and make a pre­sen­ta­tion for gap funding and I have a high degree of con­fi­dence that they can emerge and be successful.”

Michael Hans, chief exec­u­tive officer of the pro­gram, agreed. “They obvi­ously have a great idea,” said Hans, a third-​​year busi­ness major with a dual con­cen­tra­tion in entre­pre­neur­ship and marketing.

Because they’re really good at taking advice and run­ning with it, they’ve been able to build a sup­port net­work of people with exper­tise and leverage that in a pos­i­tive way.”