Send in the Entrepreneurs


Andrew Cabasso, left, DMSB'09, demonstrates his simple website builder Offsprout to Simon Zou, ME'15, at NEXPO on Wednesday night at the Cabot Cage. More than 40 ventures showcased their work at NEXPO, Northeastern's bi-annual entrepreneurship expo. Photo by Brooks Canaday.

As bone-​​chilling winds swept across the city of Boston Wednesday night, Daniel Hen­nagin, E’17, stood con­fi­dently in the slightly warmer con­fines of Northeastern’s Cabot Cage don­ning a black tank top with the phrase, “I’m exer­cising my right to bare arms.” 

At first glance, the chem­ical engi­neering major appeared severely under­dressed for this time of year; but on this night, he had a good reason to go sleeve­less. His tank top pro­duc­tion com­pany, Send In The Tanks, was one of about 50 ven­tures on dis­play at NEXPO, the semi-​​annual cel­e­bra­tion of entrepreneurs.

The event is spon­sored by IDEA, Northeastern’s student-​​run ven­ture accel­er­ator, which pro­vides stu­dents and alumni with a range of resources—mentorship and coaching, gap funding, and con­nec­tions to investors, to name a few—to help turn their entre­pre­neurial ideas into thriving businesses.

“It’s really hard to break into the apparel industry, espe­cially in a place where people can only wear your clothes to the gym or five months out of the year,” explained Hen­nagin, who was par­tic­i­pating in his third NEXPO event. His company’s tank tops come in a variety of colors and with a range of slo­gans to show funny can also be cool.

IDEA’s CEO Max Kaye, DMSB’14, said this semester’s NEXPO pro­vided a valu­able oppor­tu­nity for ven­tures to show­case their work to the entre­pre­neurial com­mu­nity and net­work with the some 450 attendees.

Tiffany Kelley, a 2008 alumna of Northeastern’s nursing grad­uate pro­gram and MBA pro­gram, par­tic­i­pated in her second NEXPO event. Kelley founded the mobile health infor­ma­tion tech­nology com­pany Nightin­gale Apps, which said gen­er­ated a lot of interest from atten­dees both within and out­side the health­care industry.

Kelley said Nightin­gale Apps is trying to improve patient care while also making nurses’ lives a little easier on the job. The venture’s first mobile app is called Know My Patient; it offers work­flow spe­cific mod­ules that allow nurses to use patient infor­ma­tion more efficiently.

“We got such awe­some feed­back,” Kelley said. “There aren’t a lot of nurses here but a lot of people are inter­ested in what we are doing.”

Kelley, who is a part-​​time lec­turer in the School of Nursing, has worked closely with IDEA to help develop her ven­ture. She took part in the organization’s alumni boot camp and is working on a busi­ness plan in the hopes of get­ting gap funding.

IDEA is an impor­tant part of North­eastern University’s larger ecosystem that sup­ports and fos­ters the entre­pre­neurial spirit of its stu­dents, staff, and alumni. Another is the Husky Startup Chal­lenge. Spon­sored by the North­eastern Entre­pre­neurs Club, HSC is a semester-​​long busi­ness devel­op­ment com­pe­ti­tion that includes boot­camps, net­working events, and an end-​​of-​​semester demo day.

The winner of the spring 2013 Husky Startup Challenge’s audi­ence favorite award was Cof­feeBar, whose co-​​founders and first employee were at NEXPO with sam­ples of the company’s mocha latte bar. It’s an all-​​natural, vegan, gluten-​​free bar that con­tains a shot of espresso.

Co-​​founders Johnny Fayad and Ali Kothari, both DMSB’17, came up with the idea last year to com­bine a nutri­tious bar with a cup of joe after real­izing last year they often didn’t have time in the morning to make break­fast and coffee.

“Learning food sci­ence was really inter­esting and a little dif­fi­cult on top of learning how to run a busi­ness,” Fayad said. “But it has been very rewarding.”