The founders of Indie Ambassador had already created their first product, a web interface dubbed PressKit.to, when they decided to team up with IDEA, Northeastern’s student-run venture accelerator.
“Becoming part of IDEA made us do our homework,” said Chris Cave, a 2008 graduate of Northeastern’s music industry program and one of the founders of Indie Ambassador, a start-up founded by alumni of Northeastern University and the Berklee College of Music. “We’ve been in the industry for a few years now and built our product; now we’re able to take a step back and really look at the business side.”
Indie Ambassador — whose PressKit.to web interface is quickly becoming popular among musicians in local acts and national bands like Karmin — was one of about 40 student and alumni businesses at NEXPO, a biannual entrepreneurship exposition hosted by IDEA. Having outgrown event space in the Curry Student Center, it was hosted for the first time on Wednesday evening in the Cabot fieldhouse.
The event was part of Boston Region Entrepreneurship Week and drew more than 500 students, faculty, entrepreneurs and community members, according to Chris Wolfel, IDEA’s CEO and a senior in the D’Amore-McKim School of Business.
“All the ventures brought their A game and really showed amazing progress — they are real businesses,” Wolfel said. “Their hard work paid off and those who attended that weren’t part of IDEA noticed. People were blown away with where the ventures were.”
IDEA helps students and alumni create, develop and accelerate new businesses through coaching, mentoring and funding. Last week, IDEA awarded $24,000 to three ventures: Narvii Inc., Cobar Systems and Biolom LLC.
Biolom, part of Northeastern’s Lab to Ventures initiative, started as a grant-funded research project to develop better ways to detect the biomarkers of diseases in very low concentration, according to Jaydev Upponi, the company’s co-founder and chief technical officer.
Upponi, who earlier this year got his doctorate in pharmaceutical sciences from Northeastern, noted that working with IDEA has helped translate scientific knowledge into business savvy.
“Near the end of our research, we realized this product had a lot of value, not just from a commercial point of view but from a healthcare point of view,” Upponi said. “We are trained in science, not in business, so working with IDEA has taken us to a completely different level.”
Dan Gregory, IDEA’s faculty advisor, said NEXPO gives fledgling entrepreneurs a chance to network and develop their business pitch.
“They learn how to present themselves in as succinct a way as possible,” Gregory said. “We have investors here, we have alumni here, and they all want to know what these ventures are about. And NEXPO is an opportunity to learn how to explain that without making someone’s eyes glaze over.”
Sean Casto is the founder of PreApps, which connects app developers with early adopters who provide feedback before a product’s official release. He said the event gave him the opportunity to showcase his company, which is preparing for its official launch.
“IDEA has given us great resources, especially in terms of mentorship and PR,” Casto said. “And any event like this, where we can talk about what we’re doing and what makes us unique, is a great opportunity.”