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IDEA: Northeastern University’s Venture Accelerator

2016 Impact Report


IDEA works with people who are passionate about solving problems, building great products, and developing businesses that impact the world around them.


04 06 18 26 42 46

Letter from the Team Cumulative Impact Year in Review Measuring Venture Learning Partners and Supporters Thank You


Letter from the Team IDEA began when a handful of Northeastern students came together to help their peers start companies on campus. Over the past six years, the program has grown and evolved under student leadership to support a rapidly growing community of early-stage ventures. Today, IDEA provides Northeastern entrepreneurs the valuable support, resources, and educational experience of developing a business from concept to launch. Each year IDEA grows and improves to better serve the Northeastern community, and 2015 has been no different. As a team, we are committed to ensuring that IDEA is built to last by focusing our attention on creating resources, developing content, and establishing programming that will benefit the IDEA community for years to come. This has been a big year for us, and we are excited to share our accomplishments with you. We are constantly in awe of the energy, support and tenacity of the IDEA community. Thank you. You are extraordinary. Sincerely, Annika Morgan, Altschuler-Meyer CEO


IDEA has worked with nearly 850 concepts to date. The metrics we have collected from our entrepreneurs show the power of the program to not only launch successful companies, but also provide life-changing educational experiences in entrepreneurship. As you read about IDEA and the impact we are making, here are a few things to remember about the way we work;

Student-led Our team of 20 undergraduate students is responsible for the strategy and operations of the program. We find this increases the program’s educational impact by giving students hands-on learning experiences and makes us more approachable to early-stage entrepreneurs.

Interdisciplinary collaboration It’s no surprise that the best companies are built by teams with a wide variety of skill sets and experiences. IDEA works across colleges and is available to Northeastern students, faculty, and alumni who want to solve big problems and build great products.

Open and flexible The only criteria to join IDEA is that one member of the founding team must be affiliated with Northeastern. There is no strict application process or mandatory timelines at any point in the program. We operate year-round and accept new entrepreneurs every two weeks. Everything we do is designed to match the varying work pace and needs of our entrepreneurs.

Failure is part of the process At IDEA, we emphasize that concept failure does not equal personal failure. The failures our entrepreneurs have now are valuable learning experiences that will contribute to their future successes in starting companies or being exceptional employees.


Cumulative Impact 6


Ventures & Funding Active Ventures












IDEA ventures have gone on to:

6 years

in operation



total venture concepts

$47M Raised in external funding

180 2016

$13M 2015

42 ventures launched

$5M 2014 $800K 2013


It’s Okay to Start Again Failure is part of the process. At IDEA, we encourage entrepreneurs to learn from every experience and apply it to their next concept.

30% Three or more concepts

42% One Concept


Two Concepts


How many venture concepts have you worked on before your current concept?

Not to be cliche, but you fall “ down to learn how to pick yourself back up. Everything that made your first concept a failure is all a learning experience to make your second one better.

You're only a failure once you stop. Iteration is a process for how any great business is built.


Julian Jung, Founder and CEO of Tablelist


Funding Impact IDEA provides funding to ventures to support early-stage development and growth. Applications for funding are reviewed and awarded by student committees.

IDEA Prototype Fund You’ll never know if something works unless you try it. The IDEA Prototype Fund awards up to $1,000 for anyone at Northeastern to build and test an idea.

$58,350 in prototype funding

67 funded prototypes


IDEA Gap Fund A small amount of funding can have a big impact on an early-stage venture. The IDEA Gap Fund awards ventures $10,000 non-equity grants six times a year to fill a business gap.


$874k gap funds awarded

ventures funded

2/3 are still in business


Experiential Impact When ventures launch from IDEA, they continue to benefit from the Northeastern community. Co-op is just one of the ways to stay connected.

former IDEA vent

used Northeaster subsidized co-op pro

“I absolutely love working here. Being part of a team that understands the value of the Northeastern co-op education program has b infinitely valuable in terms of company culture 14

Vivian Ma, Co-op at Mavrck


rn’s ogram

been e.”

“The reciprocal value of co-op is best exemplified as launched ventures return to Northeastern and hire co-op students. Co-op is an incredible asset to this community!” Esther Chewning, Associate Cooperative Education Faculty, Entrepreneurship & Management

32 Co-op students hired at IDEA ventures


have co-oped for their own venture

1st student venture hiring student co-ops this semester


Team Impact IDEA provides a valuable educational experience for the coaches and student management team members running the program.

40% Startup



16% Other


Where do team members work after

“IDEA allowed me and my peers to develop on personal and professional levels quicker than one can imagine. It remains the largest educational impact on my life. Running IDEA allowed us to explore our passions at a young age.� Matt Saitta, Management Team and Coach 2011-2015

93% 36% Fortune 500

of IDEA team members strongly agree they had a valuable learning experience

40% of former team members are in leadership roles at their current company



Year in Review 18

This year we focused on continuing to build a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem to support our ventures and establish processes to ensure IDEA is built to last.


Program Activity IDEA’s stage-gate process accelerates the development of ventures by providing relevant educational and business resources as they advance through each stage.




Concepts joined


Business Model

Ready Customer Validation






Launch $200k+ in funding



2015-16 Venture Demographics Venture Industry Consumer Software


Physical Products


Enterprise Software






Health Care / Life Sciences


Social Enterprise


Ventures by Northeastern Relationship


Undergraduate Students

36% Alumni

“Regardless of your background, the IDEA program has key steps that any entrepreneur needs to know.� 22 Jamall Oluokun,


Graduate Students



Education of Founding Team




Not Northeastern

College of Arts, Media and Design

BouvĂŠ College of Health Sciences



College of Computer and Information Science

College of Professional Studies

18% College of Engineering


D’Amore-McKim School of Business

3% 6%

College of Science

College of Social Sciences and Humanities


Program Activity

On a scale of 1-10, would you recommend IDEA to another Northeastern entrepreneur?

2% Detractor (1-6)


Net Promoter Score 21% Neutral (7-8)

77% Promoter (9-10)



Measuring Learning We asked our ventures to assess their personal learning as a result of their involvement with IDEA.

Since starting in IDEA, venture founders have improved in the following areas 83% 73% 67%



Ready Stage

100% 26

Set Stage


Investor Readiness

Go To Market

Business Modeling

Customer Validation

Market Analysis


Go Stage

of ventures agree participating in IDEA has been a valuable learning experience

provides the perfect next “ IDEA step for our lean innovation classes, which take students from opportunity assessment through prototype. Often, promising student’s projects end after the class, but IDEA is the perfect funnel to keep students engaged, and in some cases develop into nascent businesses.

This creates a complete ecosystem directly tying the classroom to entrepreneurship. Additionally, many of our graduate students in our various programs gain and give valuable coaching insight to venture teams. This provides them with exposure to entrepreneurship, and many end up entering their projects into IDEA.

Tucker J. Marion Ph.D. Associate Professor Entrepreneurship and Innovation 27

Measuring Learning


Venture learning in the IDEA process is the subject of a postdoctoral research project. Judges are evaluating a venture’s knowledge of business planning as they prepare to pass through each stage-gate. This insight allows us to improve entrepreneurship education programming at Northeastern. Starting from the middle with the lightest color representing when a venture begins in IDEA, the chart shows the span of venture knowledge as they move through the stages.

Business Model

Level 28

Customer Insight 6


4 Venture Stage 3

Beginning Ready Stage

2 Set Stage 1 Go Stage 0

Solution Design

l of understanding 29

Student Founder “IDEA has been one of the most influential resources for us in scaling New Grounds Food to where it is today and truly speaks to Northeastern’s focus on experiential learning. We’ve learned so much more than what we could have in a conventional classroom setting by actually building our venture through the stagegate process at IDEA.” Johnny Fayad, Co-founder of New Grounds Foods



Faculty Founder


“Building Conversation got its start from IDEA with all the basics of planning a startup: validating markets, patents, and incorporating, which helped us get accepted into MassChallenge. Likewise, at every later stage, IDEA mentors and networking have been there to push us and increase our chances of success.� Terrence Masson, Founder of Building Conversation




36 presenting ventures

513 attendees


Celebrating what’s next in Northeastern innovation

“At NEXPO you see all of these other students who are pursuing their ideas as passionately as you are and it motivates you to keep doing what you're doing. Having conversations with these entrepreneurs broadens your outlook on your work and helps ideas grow.” Abbey Titcomb, Co-Founder of Knightly

Founders Dinners




Bringing the IDEA community together

“Founders dinners are a reminder that many of us are going through the same things and can benefit a lot from helping each other out.” Matt Handy, Co-Founder of SQD



IDEA’s most investment-ready ventures in series of fast-paced 5-minute pitches


ventures pitched


investors, mentors & supporters


Our Coaches The IDEA coaching team is made up of young alumni, undergraduate, and graduate students who love startups. They work one-on-one with ventures to guide them through the stage-gate process and connect them with resources.

34 coaches

office hour sessions



total coaching hours

"The best part of being a coach is witnessing the transformation of a venture. Entrepreneurs walk in the door with an idea and leave with a business plan, funding support, and an entire community of people rooting for them to succeed. " Jake Moody, IDEA Coach


Our Entrepreneurs in Residence

“The number of ideas being pur amazing. Young entrepreneurs every college at Northeastern, to ventures conducting drug di of ideas being developed says Northeastern and the environm created to encourage and supp 36

Bob Lentz, Entrepreneur in Residence

rsued through IDEA is s come from essentially from food ventures iscovery. The breadth so much about ment the university has port entrepreneurship.”

“Bob has been crucial to Jobble’s early stage development. He pushed us to meet our milestones and has made valuable connections for us. Even after we launched from IDEA, we still come back to meet with Bob and the rest of the IDEA team.” Zack Smith, Founder of Jobble

2 entrepreneurs in residence

267 whiteboarding sessions

New Hire

Health Science EIR Kevin Scanlon


Our Mentors

62 ventures with mentors

182 mentorship meetings

“Our mentors have such a depth of knowledge in our field. They don’t just give us broad guidance, they are able to provide industry-specific predictions that we can trust. We have been able to focus our energy based on that specialized knowledge.” Chris Canal, Co-founder of Wizio 38

hours spent with ventures per month

Thank You to Our Mentorship Partners

Venture Mentoring Network 39

Northeastern’s Ecosystem: Mosaic Mosiac is Northeastern University’s network of student-led organizations that support entrepreneurship and venture creation.


CO-L AB For innovators at Northeastern University


ventures have challenged � IDEA us to develop and strengthen our design capabilities while improving our workflows. From the perspective of our team members,

ventures have acted as the highest quality of experiential learning opportunities “

by enabling our team to develop their technical and leadership skills.

Ian McLarney, COO Scout


Service Providers


is on a mission to support “ IDEA the entrepreneurs of tomorrow, and because Version 2.0 loves to partner with innovative companies and brands,

working with IDEA was a no-brainer. It's been a pleasure providing inkind PR resources and support to the unique and creative entrepreneurs from both IDEA and the ventures that have stemmed from the organization.


Libby Botsford, Version 2.0 Communications



Advisory Board Roy Liu - Chair of the Board Deb Boedicker Jim Bourdon Ken Coleman Rich Corley Hugh Courtney Robin Devereux Tom Durkin Aaron Gowell Max Kaye Nicholas Lento Alan Mateo Dan McCarthy Krish Nangegadda Nick Naraghi Steve Picheny Dennis Shaughnessy Chris Wolfel


Faculty and Staff Northeastern University Center for Entrepreneurship Education Dan Gregory Dan McCarthy Marc Meyer Esther Chewning Greg Dalle-Molle Katie Dempsey Lauren Dibble Katelyn Husereau Bob Lentz Caitlin Riley Kevin Scanlon Kathryn Wells


Thank you


The enthusiasm and support of the IDEA community continues to inspire and amaze us year after year. Thank you to all of our entrepreneurs, coaches, mentors, and advisors– it’s an honor to work alongside you. Keep changing the world! Sincerely, The 2015-2016 IDEA Management Team

Alex Allocca Miranda Beggin Omkar Bhat Kevin Casas Lucas Ferreira da Rocha Chris Denaro Neel Desai Tanner Elvidge Drew Hartman Connie He Gabi Homonoff Bailey Kane Maia Kaye Rebecca Kling Lauren Maloney Elsa Mayer

Seth McIntyre Annika Morgan Katie Mulligan Emily O’Brien John O’Connor Alli Pierpont Dan Prawdzik Lindsey Sampson Sarah Sienkiewicz Evan Sutherland Sarah Urbonas Jordan Vallinino Nina Waskiewicz Ebryonna Wiggins Ted Wolf

Portrait Photography by Catherine Patchell Icon Illustration by Gabi Homonoff Designed by Emily O’Brien


Northeastern University ’s

Venture Accelerator @IDEANEU 48

2016 IDEA Impact Report  
2016 IDEA Impact Report