Businesses pitching their products and services on Wednesday afternoon at Northeastern University were varied, ranging from a high-end, custom guitar manufacturer to a technology start-up that helps corporations gauge their online presence. But their message was one and the same: We are cutting-edge companies that could grow into more successful ventures with outside investment.
The first annual IDEA Pitch-a-thon took place in Northeastern’s Alumni Center, where entrepreneurs from nearly two dozen businesses had five minutes each to pitch their companies to a panel of potential investors. After the pitches, participants networked in an informal session held in the university’s Faculty Club.
IDEA, Northeastern’s student-run venture accelerator, helps students and alumni create, develop and accelerate new businesses through coaching, mentoring and funding.
Matthew Osofisan, president of Annie Mulz, a creative lifestyle brand that has made $90,000 in revenue through two pop-up stores in Boston, made a pitch. His company is seeking a $75,000 equity investment to open a flagship location in downtown Boston, which would double as a base for national expansion.
“We’ve done a real lot with a real little and now we’re hoping to do even more,” Osofisan said in his pitch. “We’ve got a very strong team with a proven track record of getting things done.”
Chris Wolfel, a senior in the College of Business Administration and the CEO of IDEA, explained the philosophy behind the venture accelerator prior to the start of the Pitch-a-thon.
“Our goal is to make self-sustaining, investment-ready ventures that are prepared to be good employers and strong businesses,” he explained. “Now, you have the opportunity to be a part of this.”
IDEA supports businesses from every college in the university and offers up to $10,000 of grant funding to help ventures get off the ground.
Northeastern’s flagship co-op program and the university’s position as a leading research university make the program an especially productive entrepreneurial engine, Wolfel said, noting that students, alumni, faculty and staff have the potential to build businesses that turn academic research into strong ventures.
One of those research-based ventures is Akrivis Technologies, which boasts technology that can catch cancer far earlier than traditional methods using a suite of uniquely sensitive immunoassays. The venture has already secured a plethora of customers, but needs outside investment to grow, said Dr. Joel Berniac, a researcher who completed his high-tech MBA at Northeastern in 2005.
“We have companies waiting for our product,” Berniac said. “Now we just need capital so we can deliver our product.”