Choosing to become an entre­pre­neur may be the most chal­lenging career move a young pro­fes­sional could make, said Ben Kaufman, the 24-​​year-​​old chief oper­ating officer of Quirky, a New York City-​​based social product devel­op­ment company.

You have to devote your entire life to a cause that you believe in,” Kaufman told more than 75 stu­dents, fac­ulty and staff in West Vil­lage F last Thursday for a lec­ture on the power of entre­pre­neur­ship. “Exe­cuting an idea is huge, but it all starts with the idea itself.”

The event — spon­sored by the Wilmer­Hale Ven­ture Group — was held in cel­e­bra­tion of the new Center for Research Inno­va­tion (CRI), which aims to sup­port and foster inno­va­tion and entre­pre­neur­ship among stu­dents, fac­ulty and alumni at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity. It was also among the series of North­eastern activ­i­ties marking Global Entre­pre­neur­ship Week.

You are in an envi­ron­ment where there are people who want you to suc­ceed,” CRI director Tracey Doden­hoff told stu­dents in the audi­ence. “We will con­nect you with the best resources no matter what stage of devel­op­ment you are in.”

For his part, Kaufman recapped his entre­pre­neurial journey. In high school, he founded an iPod acces­sory com­pany called Mophie, which he named in honor of his two golden retrievers.

It began in his base­ment with ribbon and gift-​​wrap. “In class, I wanted to listen to my iPod shuffle in secrecy, so I cre­ated a lan­yard that con­cealed the wire,” he explained.

His par­ents helped finance Mophie by taking out a second mort­gage on their home. As Kaufman put it, “They gave me $185,000 and said, ‘Let’s see what you can do.’ ”

Mophie won “Best in Show” at Mac­world 2006. In 2007, Inc. Mag­a­zine named Kaufman the top entre­pre­neur in the country under the age of 30. He was 20.

One day, he noticed a woman on the New York City subway wearing an iPod case designed by Mophie. “It was the best feeling in the world,” he recalled. “That moment changed everything.”

In 2009, he founded Quirky. The com­pany solicits new product ideas via its web­site, asks readers to vote on the best ones and then designs, man­u­fac­tures and mar­kets the winners.

As one example, more than 700 people had a hand in cre­ating the pivot power flex­ible power strip, an adjustable power strip that holds large adapters in every outlet. “Ideas devel­oped in the living room are more intriguing than those devel­oped in the board­room,” Kaufman explained. “We share rev­enue with each and every one of these people on a daily basis.”

He gave honest advice to aspiring entre­pre­neurs, whom he encour­aged to refrain from thinking so hard about the next big thing. “The best ideas come when you’re not trying to think about ideas,” Kaufman said.

Find great critics,” he added. “You need people to tell you that you have hor­rible ideas.”