“The secret to starting a business is actually starting a business”
Ashkan Afkhami, DMSB ’09, MS’10 explains the value of the Northeastern Network in shaping this entrepreneurial journey.
If there’s ever a quintessential example of Northeastern University’s entrepreneurial alumni, it’s Ashkan Afkhami, DMSB’09, MS’10.
The trajectory of his entrepreneurial career was shaped by the university’s network. As an undergraduate, he received the Amin J. and Julie E. Khoury Endowed Scholarship for technological entrepreneurship. Coming from a single-income household, the scholarship went a long way in supporting Afkhami’s MS in Technological Entrepreneurship. “If I didn’t have that support, I may not even have been able to go to school,” said Afkhami. He knew he had to make the most of the opportunity to pursue his education goals, and he did just that by founding IDEA, Northeastern’s student-run venture accelerator that provides a variety of resources to Northeastern-affiliated entrepreneurs looking to launch their own businesses. IDEA has supported numerous entrepreneurs through their journey to success.
But, perhaps the most important benefit of the network – which led to Afkhami’s current role as the General Manager and Founding Member of Mobiquity – was his introduction to Bill Siebel, a member of the Board of Visitors at the D’Amore-McKim School of Business. “It opened up doors for me,” said Afkhami.
“There’s no better time than when you’re at school to take on a venture. The Northeastern innovation ecosystem is designed to attract entrepreneurs, drive them to go out, experience, and figure out not just what they want to do, but also what they don’t want to do.”
Siebel’s mentorship helped Afkhami grow professionally and expand his connections. Afkhami gained experience at a Northeastern alumni-founded venture capital firm, Hercules, which eventually led to the launch of his own venture, Mobiquity, with Siebel and nine other partners. Today, Mobiquity – a digital engagement provider – touches approximately 50 million users through clients such as CVS, Walmart, and Novartis among others.
Now that his business is established, true to the Northeastern spirit, Afkhami is eager to give back to the university. He’s a mentor for the Health Sciences Entrepreneurs, and his company has also hired 15-20 co-op students from the university. “When you hire co-ops, you know exactly where they’re coming from, and you know they want to succeed and learn,” said Afkhami.
Afkhami is also doing everything he can to expose fellow Northeastern students to the same university resources and benefits that got him where he is today.
“IDEA, Mosaic, Scout, there are so many vehicles that exist to allow students to find what they need while at school. After you graduate, the network only continues to grow, and is available at your fingertips in any city around the world.”
published October 2017