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.