In his mid-​​20s, Boloco founder and CEO John Pepper ate hun­dreds of bur­ritos crafted in San Francisco’s Mis­sion Dis­trict, whose taque­rías had become known for piling rice, meat and side dishes into large flour tortillas.

I real­ized that I could spend my whole life doing some­thing like this,” Pepper said. He pointed to his heart and then added, “It starts here. Not a lot of busi­nesses make it for a long period of time without pas­sion, and I was pas­sionate about food and burritos.”

Pepper addressed more than 200 stu­dents who packed 150 Dodge Hall on Tuesday evening for a lec­ture spon­sored by the North­eastern Uni­ver­sity Entre­pre­neurs Club.

The bur­rito king said he opened the first Boloco restau­rant in Boston in 1997. Over the next 15 years, he expanded his busi­ness into nearly two-​​dozen loca­tions throughout New England.

Pepper places a pre­mium on both cus­tomer and employee sat­is­fac­tion. “We want to make cus­tomers happy at all costs,” he said. “If we blow it, we do every­thing we can to make it up to you.”

Both the Boloco iPhone appli­ca­tion and in-​​restaurant kiosks were designed with one goal in mind: “We want to get cus­tomers food faster,” said Pepper, who admits to eating more than a dozen bur­ritos per week.

At the end of his lec­ture, Pepper gave honest advice to aspiring entre­pre­neurs, whom he encour­aged to take chances. “You have to see less risk than every­body else,” he explained. “Be careful about step­ping away from a good idea even if someone had already done it.”

Prior to Pepper’s lec­ture, stu­dents net­worked with each other while eating bur­ritos and lis­tening to salsa music. Many stu­dents broke the ice by asking their peers whom they would love to have lunch with.

Sopho­more Cory Bolotsky, director of the Husky Start-​​Up Chal­lenge — an Entre­pre­neurs Club pro­gram that helps stu­dents turn their busi­nesses into viable ven­tures — explained the ratio­nale behind the pre-​​lecture fes­tiv­i­ties. As he put it, “We want to empower stu­dents and help them build mean­ingful rela­tion­ships with their peers who could be poten­tial busi­ness partners.”

From time to time, he would jump onto a chair to make a playful procla­ma­tion. In his booming voice, he implored, “Talk to people who you don’t know. If I see you sit­ting with someone who you came in with, I will pub­licly embar­rass you.”