In the age of startup-​​mania, accel­er­a­tors, incu­ba­tors and the con­stant search for ven­ture cap­ital,North­eastern Uni­ver­sity is taking a proac­tive approach to get­ting would-​​be founders to an entre­pre­neurial happy-​​place.

IDEA calls itself a “ven­ture accel­er­ator,” The three-​​year-​​old pro­gram within the uni­ver­sity was founded by stu­dents who – after coming face to face with the harsh real­i­ties of startup life – felt the school should have a means of cul­ti­vating new, student-​​founded small busi­nesses and get­ting them ready for prime time.

Funded by alumni, the pro­gram allows cur­rent stu­dents and young grad­u­ates access to coaches, men­tors, ser­vice providers and even­tu­ally funding to get their ideas off the ground. IDEA meted out just under $215,000 this school year to 17 young ven­tures. “We have seven funding rounds over the course of the year and nor­mally about five (ven­tures) that pitch every funding round,” says Christo­pher Wolfel, CEO of the pro­gram and a senior busi­ness admin­is­tra­tion stu­dent at Northeastern.

Men­tors with IDEA are all North­eastern alumni that have been involved in the founding of at least one com­pany, Wolfel explained. They are matched to poten­tial star­tups based on industry exper­tise and meet with the pro­grams later stage ven­tures at least once a month. Stu­dent coaches – MBA stu­dents or seniors – are also avail­able daily to field ques­tions within spe­cific exper­tise like sales, mar­keting, engi­neering or tech­nical and financial.

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