North­eastern Uni­ver­sity stu­dents and alumni gath­ered to net­work and show­case new busi­ness ven­tures to stu­dents, fac­ulty and poten­tial investors at IDEA’s third annual NEXPO, the North­eastern Entre­pre­neur­ship Expo, held Wednesday night in the Curry Stu­dent Center. 

IDEA: Northeastern’s Ven­ture Accel­er­ator helps stu­dents and alumni create, develop and accel­erate new busi­nesses through coaching, men­toring and gap funding, spon­sored the event for the next gen­er­a­tion of busi­ness leaders. To date, the pro­gram has awarded more than $60,000.

Many of the start-​​ups show­cased at the expo focused on social respon­si­bility, including Njabini Apparel, a non­profit microen­ter­prise that employs dis­ad­van­taged and dis­abled women in the Kenyan farming town to design and sell clothing and acces­sories.

North­eastern stu­dent Jared Sholk, who helps operate Njabini, enjoyed the expe­ri­ence of pitching his idea to poten­tial investors. ”It’s really about get­ting our name out there,” he said. “We’re all North­eastern busi­nesses and this is a great oppor­tu­nity to net­work and meet investors.”

Northeastern’s Social Enter­prise Insti­tute recently launched a new major and minor in social entre­pre­neur­ship. “It’s a really strong pro­gram at the Uni­ver­sity that not many people know about yet,” noted Claire Fis­cher, a fourth-​​year inter­na­tional affairs major with minors in busi­ness and social entre­pre­neur­ship in the Col­lege of Busi­ness Admin­is­tra­tion. “More and more people are get­ting inter­ested in this field as a way to start a busi­ness and do good.”

Sev­eral stu­dent groups — including the North­eastern Entre­pre­neurs Club, recently ranked one of the best student-​​run entre­pre­neur­ship clubs in the world — show­cased the work they do to pro­mote and encourage business-​​savvy stu­dents.

“Our goal is to show people that you can start your own com­pany while you’re still in col­lege,” said IDEA’s mar­keting officer, Christo­pher Wolfel.

Lyle Stevens, BA’09, cofounded the com­pany Apifa. He attended the expo in search of beta testers for Social­Splash, a Face­book appli­ca­tion that enables busi­nesses to market their prod­ucts through influ­en­tial Face­book users. 

Some of the company’s profits would go to charity, Stevens said. “We’re finding that people are really inter­ested in how we’re mixing social influ­ence and social respon­si­bility,” he said.