Physics major Nick DePorzio thinks he can improve on the black­boards and white­boards that have long been com­mon­place in class­rooms and offices—and to do so he’s reflecting upon his child­hood. The first-​​year stu­dent is designing a pro­to­type writing sur­face that is based on the Magna Doodle toy and would not require cleaning or the need for replace­ment chalk and markers.

DePorzio hopes to turn his idea into Krys­tal­Board, a product that could one day take the mar­ket­place by storm. For help kick-​​starting his idea, he turned to the Husky Startup Chal­lenge, a busi­ness devel­op­ment com­pe­ti­tion run by the North­eastern Entre­pre­neurs Club. HSC has already had an impact on the project by broad­ening DePorzio’s busi­ness perspective.

I came in with a really tech­nical idea, but I needed the busi­ness skills to make it happen,” he said. “That’s where Husky Startup Chal­lenge came in.”

DePorzio’s idea will be one of many new ven­tures on dis­play Monday evening at Demo Day, which serves as the con­clu­sion of the Husky Startup Chal­lenge. The event will take place at 6 p.m. in the Curry Stu­dent Center Ballroom.

Other fea­tured busi­ness plans include a bus ser­vice that safely trans­ports stu­dents between campus and pop­ular city des­ti­na­tions on week­ends and a caf­feinated break­fast bar that’s been devel­oped and fine-​​tuned in the common kitchen of White Hall. Yet another is a web­site that lists local events that would appeal to col­lege stu­dents in search of fun, inex­pen­sive things to do with their free time.

The semester-​​long com­pe­ti­tion chal­lenges entrepreneurs-​​in-​​training to come up with a product or busi­ness model that solves a problem. To that end, HSC offers men­toring, net­working, sup­port, and a series of boot camps for entrepreneurs.

Many busi­nesses fail because they don’t embrace this problem-​​solving per­spec­tive, according to HSC co-​​director David Oates. “So many entre­pre­neurs start a com­pany based on what seems like a good idea, but they fall apart because it wasn’t based around solving a problem,” said Oates, a first-​​year stu­dent pur­suing a com­bined major in busi­ness and com­puter sci­ence. “If a com­pany isn’t solving a problem, cus­tomers just aren’t going to go for it.”

At Demo Day, bud­ding entre­pre­neurs finally get the oppor­tu­nity to show­case what HSC co-​​director Matt Voska calls a “min­imum viable product”—a proof-​​of-​​concept that demon­strates whether a fledg­ling com­pany would likely be able to move for­ward. If stu­dents’ pro­to­types and busi­ness plans show enough promise, they move to IDEA, the university’s student-​​run ven­ture accelerator.

Demo Day is an oppor­tu­nity for Husky Startup Chal­lenge par­tic­i­pants to go out and see if people are inter­ested and what they’re doing,” said Voska, a first-​​year stu­dent pur­suing a com­bined major in com­puter engi­neering and busi­ness with a con­cen­tra­tion in entre­pre­neur­ship. “If they are, we’ll help them move for­ward. If they’re not, we’ll show them how to pivot and find a way to do some­thing that people respond to.”

The E-​​Club will award $4,500 in prize money to Demo Day par­tic­i­pants. A team of 25 judges com­prising local entre­pre­neurs and investors will select the top three ideas. The entre­pre­neur behind the audience’s favorite idea will also receive an award.

The whole process really shows you how to get a handle on all the ini­tial steps of building a busi­ness,” said Rohit Mal­rani, a third-​​year busi­ness major with a con­cen­tra­tion in finance who began testing his pro­posal for the after-​​hours bus ser­vice during the last weekend of March. “At the end of the day, Husky Startup Chal­lenge really makes it easy to turn your idea into a real product.”