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.