North­eastern grad­u­ates Sean Naegeli and Lyle Stevens founded Apifia, a busi­ness that develops web apps such as Splash­Score, which con­nects influ­en­tial social net­work users with busi­nesses.. Photo by Mary Knox Merrill.

As stu­dents at North­eastern, Lyle Stevens and Sean Naegeli filled note­books with one busi­ness idea after another, plan­ning their future careers as entre­pre­neurs before they even graduated.

Today, the two alumni — Stevens grad­u­ated in 2009 with a busi­ness admin­is­tra­tion degree and con­cen­tra­tions in entre­pre­neur­ship and man­age­ment infor­ma­tion sys­tems, and Naegeli grad­u­ated in 2011 with a degree in indus­trial engi­neering — are moving those ideas from paper to practice.

The duo recently founded Apifia, a web-​​based social appli­ca­tion devel­op­ment com­pany. The young entre­pre­neurs are cur­rently devel­oping their first ven­ture for Apifia called Splash­Score, a Face­book appli­ca­tion that mea­sures online social influ­ence and pairs leading users with com­pa­nies that want to pro­mote their businesses.

Stevens and Naegeli received finan­cial sup­port for Apifia from IDEA: Northeastern’s Ven­ture Accel­er­ator, which helps stu­dents and alumni create, develop and accel­erate new busi­nesses through coaching, men­toring and gap funding. To date, the pro­gram has awarded more than $130,000.

Stevens, Apifia’s CEO, described the logic behind Splash­Score: “We’re finding the big fish in the small pond,” he explained. “The users with the highest scores are the ones who already go online and talk about a good movie they’ve seen or a great new product they’ve tried.

They’re already talking, people are already lis­tening and now we’re helping con­nect busi­nesses to these influ­en­tial users.”

Splash­Score, he said, turns Face­book posts, “likes” and com­ments into a game, rewarding more active and influ­en­tial users with a higher score. The appli­ca­tion, which ends its beta-​​testing phase later this year, enables com­pa­nies to iden­tify the highest-​​rated users, who they can then target for their pro­mo­tional give­aways, such as free movie tickets or dis­counted sneakers.

The incen­tive for the com­pa­nies is that SplashScore’s highest-​​rated users will gen­erate buzz via word-​​of-​​mouth. “The users with the highest scores are the ones who not only post about what they’re inter­ested in and what they’re doing, but start con­ver­sa­tions and influ­ence their friends and fol­lowers, too,” said Naegeli, Apifia’s chief oper­a­tions officer.

Splash­Score users are not oblig­ated to make pos­i­tive com­ments about the prod­ucts or pro­mo­tions they receive, said Stevens, “but if our users get a good product or see a good movie, they’re going to talk about it to a big, engaged audience.”

Stevens and Naegeli hope that Apifia — a hybrid word that com­bines “app,” “epiphany” and “idea” — will grow into a larger ven­ture and serve as a spring­board for more inter­ac­tive web apps like SplashScore.

They’ll be busy trying to find ways to carve out time to grow Apifia. Stevens is an enter­prise IT project man­ager at Raytheon and Naegeli is a member of the busi­ness trans­for­ma­tion team at Beth Israel Dea­coness Med­ical Center.

Apifia is some­thing we think is only going to grow,” Naegeli said. “We think we’ve found a great place in the market to create a really strong business.”