IDEA, School of Law team up to support local startups

By: News@Northeastern

A new collaboration between IDEA, Northeastern’s student-run venture accelerator, and the School of Law’s Community Business Clinic offers Boston-based entrepreneurs support and free business and legal advice. Northeastern photo.


Through a new part­ner­ship between IDEA and the School of Law’s Com­mu­nity Busi­ness Clinic, the Boston-​​based entre­pre­neurs unaf­fil­i­ated with North­eastern have been accepted to the university’s student-​​run ven­ture accel­er­ator for the first time ever.

The clinic, directed by law pro­fessor Peter Sessa, offers law stu­dents real-​​world expe­ri­ence in pro­viding free, business-​​related legal ser­vices to star­tups, entre­pre­neurs, and small busi­nesses in the Boston area.

“This is the real prac­tice of law,” Sessa explained. “It’s not a sim­u­la­tion course. We expect the unexpected.”

Sessa’s clinic teamed up with IDEA to pro­vide three of its clients with busi­ness sup­port from IDEA that is typ­i­cally reserved for star­tups with a North­eastern affil­i­a­tion. Pre­vi­ously, unaf­fil­i­ated clients could attend work­shops and receive coaching from the IDEA staff but could not get funding—until now. IDEA’s $1,000 Pro­to­type Fund Grants will be avail­able to these ventures.

“The value added is the coaching, men­toring, and busi­ness plan­ning sup­port we can pro­vide them,” said Max Kaye, CEO of IDEA. “This was a com­mu­nity out­reach oppor­tu­nity for us.” 

Stu­dents in the clinic selected three of their clients to join IDEA: Pixel Life, an under­ground and hip-​​hop clothing brand founded by North­eastern psy­chology major Vlad Dim­itrov, S’15; Envite Design, a design and pro­duc­tion com­pany; and Prac­tice Gigs, a social net­working plat­form that helps ath­letes find prac­tice partners.

Prac­tice Gigs, a social net­working plat­form that helps ath­letes find prac­tice part­ners, is among the first group of local ven­tures selected through a new part­ner­ship between IDEA and the School of Law’s Com­mu­nity Busi­ness clinic. Photo by Mariah Tauger.

Toni Oloko, the 17-​​year-​​old Boston Trinity Academy stu­dent who started Prac­tice Gigs, spoke highly of working with North­eastern. “My expe­ri­ence with IDEA and the Com­mu­nity Busi­ness Clinic has been great,” Oloko said, noting that a mentor at the Small Busi­nesses Asso­ci­a­tion referred him to the law school clinic. “With their help, Prac­tice Gigs Inc. attended NEXPO in November, but more impor­tantly we have received advice on our busi­ness model and busi­ness plan.”

Kaye has received pos­i­tive feed­back from all three ven­tures, which have already attended work­shops on busi­ness mod­eling, pitching, and financing. Last month, Envite Design joined Prac­tice Gigs in par­tic­i­pating in NEXPO, a bian­nual entre­pre­neur­ship expo­si­tion hosted by IDEA.

The law stu­dents, for their part, are also ben­e­fiting from this new part­ner­ship. According to Sessa, their ser­vice has taught them the impor­tance of col­lab­o­ra­tion and delegation.

“All new lawyers expe­ri­ence some stress because they think they need the answers to all their clients’ ques­tions,” Sessa explained. “My stu­dents learn the value of col­lab­o­ra­tion and being able to send their clients to another resource for cer­tain questions.”

Jan­uary marked the begin­ning of the law school’s second quarter of the year, which means new clients and new stu­dents for Sessa’s clinic. Both he and Kaye said they hope to add three new ven­tures to the IDEA family in addi­tion to the orig­inal three, which are expected to con­tinue working with IDEA.

“The sky is the limit as far as I’m con­cerned,” Sessa said.