Annika Morgan, DMSB’16, didn’t plan on becoming the new face of Northeastern’s thriving entre­pre­neurial ecosystem.

But here she is, the inau­gural Altschuler-​​Meyer CEO of IDEA, the university’s student-​​run ven­ture accelerator.

I didn’t know where I wanted to land, but I knew that entre­pre­neur­ship would be a great place to start,” says Morgan, reflecting on her deci­sion to study busi­ness with a con­cen­tra­tion in entre­pre­neur­ship. “I’ve always been a self-​​starter, and I thought that having the busi­ness knowl­edge to start a com­pany from the ground up would be valu­able no matter what I chose to do.”

The startup bug

Morgan was bit by the startup bug in fall 2011, when she joined the North­eastern Entre­pre­neurs Club. Ever since then she’s been climbing up the ladder of achieve­ment, stop­ping at each rung to learn a little some­thing about lead­er­ship, the power of team­work, and the startup life.

Morgan cut her lead­er­ship teeth with the Entre­pre­neurs Club, co-​​directing its Entre­pre­neur­ship Immer­sion Pro­gram from spring 2012 to spring 2013. And she acquitted her­self well in the role, par­laying the posi­tion into a pro­mo­tion to vice pres­i­dent of the club itself from fall 2013 to spring 2014.

Her co-​​op respon­si­bil­i­ties, like those within the Entre­pre­neurs Club, have expanded with each suc­ces­sive expe­ri­ence. First she worked in client ser­vices for DataXu, the Boston-​​based dig­ital adver­tising startup. Then she designed her own co-​​op, working as the director of mar­keting and cus­tomer expe­ri­ence for Fresh Truck, the IDEA ven­ture aimed at bringing healthy food to the Boston community.

What cap­ti­vates her is the people, the movers and shakers in the entre­pre­neur­ship ecosystem who exem­plify the no-​​quit atti­tude. “They’re all-​​hands-​​on-​​deck,” she says. “They want to fix every problem, exploring every solu­tion until the wee hours of the night.”

As CEO of IDEA, Morgan is no dif­ferent. “Working on some­thing so hard because I believe it in so much is some­thing I really enjoy doing,” she says, “and now I’m inspiring other people to do the same.”

11/16/15 - BOSTON, MA. - Annika Morgan BA'16 poses for a portrait on Nov. 16, 2015. Photo by: Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University

Morgan was bit by the startup bug in fall 2011, when she joined the North­eastern Entre­pre­neurs Club.

‘Raising money like crazy’

Morgan over­sees more than 160 active ven­tures, many of which have received coaching, men­toring, and gap funding from the pro­gram. There’s Crystal, the email app, and Force, the training apparel com­pany. There’s Jobble, the staffing startup, and Wizio, the online apart­ment marketplace.

Since she became CEO in May, IDEA ven­tures have raised more than $22 mil­lion in external funding. The latest is Mavrck, the micro-​​influencer mar­keting plat­form, which announced on Friday that it had raised $5 mil­lion from Kepha Part­ners and Grand­Banks Cap­ital. Others ven­tures, like Tablelist, the nightlife startup, have begun hiring employees and North­eastern co-​​op stu­dents alike.

As Morgan puts it, “They’re raising money like crazy and giving back to the North­eastern community.”

Under her watch, the entre­pre­neurs behind the most suc­cessful ven­tures have praised the pro­gram for trans­forming their ideas into full-​​fledged busi­nesses. “I couldn’t have done this without your team,” they tell her. “Their help has really changed everything.”

The power of collaboration

Over the past six months, Morgan has been working hard to foster col­lab­o­ra­tion between IDEA and the many other stu­dent clubs, mentor groups, and uni­ver­sity cen­ters ded­i­cated to entre­pre­neur­ship at Northeastern.

Some campus part­ner­ships have already pro­duced impres­sive results. Scout, the student-​​led design studio, worked with an IDEA ven­ture called New Grounds Food to design the branding for the startup’s all-​​natural energy bar. And the student-​​led Intel­lec­tual Prop­erty Law Clinic fre­quently helps bur­geoning star­tups iden­tify poten­tial clients in need of intel­lec­tual prop­erty guidance.

 

I’ve always been a self-​​starter, and I thought that having the busi­ness knowl­edge to start a com­pany from the ground up would be valu­able no matter what I chose to do.
— Annika Morgan

Everyone is so excited about doing what they do best to sup­port campus ven­tures,” Morgan says. “Stu­dents here take the ini­tia­tive. They want to solve prob­lems and sup­port each other.”

Morgan, for her part, plans to sup­port IDEA even after she grad­u­ates in May and relin­quishes her CEO role to become a member of the ven­ture accelerator’s advi­sory board. She sees her­self working for an early-​​stage startup, maybe even Fresh Truck. “I def­i­nitely want to work for a com­pany with a social enter­prise com­po­nent,” she says.