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Student entrepreneurs turn ideas into businesses

Spring 2012 Demo Day winner 2012
President Joseph E. Aoun congratulates freshman Preston Turk, first-place winner of the Spring 2012 Husky Startup Challenge.

On Thursday, Northeastern’s Entrepreneurs Club hosted the Spring 2012 Husky Startup Challenge Demo Day, at which 18 student entrepreneurs pitched their innovative ideas, garnered support from the community and celebrated the entrepreneurial spirit flourishing on campus.

The Husky Startup Challenge is a semester-long competition that helps students formulate a structure and business plan to turn ideas into successful companies. The program includes a series of workshops, bootcamps and networking events. The challenge culminates in Demo Day, as students present their business ideas to the Northeastern community and a panel of judges.

After surveying the students’ ventures, President Joseph E. Aoun said he was impressed with their creative thinking and noted that Northeastern provides an environment that encourages students to become entrepreneurs and innovators early on. “We want our students to be innovators, risk takers and conquer the world,” he said.

The event marked the fourth Husky Startup Challenge, and featured ventures in a variety of industries, including high tech, clean energy, consumer products and cloud computing. The student entrepreneurs also represented a range of majors across the university’s colleges, from behavioral neuroscience to mechanical engineering and international affairs.

Cory Bolotsky, director of the student-run Husky Startup Challenge remarked how quickly the ventures at Demo Day had advanced in the short time frame of the competition. “Knowing that in the beginning of the semester, every company here started as a simple idea, and that they have now grown into active ventures with working prototypes and, in some cases, customers, is very inspiring.”

The winning venture at the Spring 2012 Demo Day was Lens Caddy, the brainchild of Preston Turk, who received a $2,000 prize. The freshman, who has a passion for photography, created a unique, convenient way for photographers to carry and protect multiple camera lenses and easily switch between them. He’d previously received funding through Northeastern’s Prototype Fund, administered jointly by the Center for Research InnovationIDEA: Northeastern’s Venture Accelerator and the Entrepreneurs Club, to create a prototype of his product.

Second place went to Scoop, There It Is — a hip-hop inspired ice cream truck. Third place went to HardBoil, a startup that helps other companies develop and test enterprise applications.

The audience favorite was Sweet Therapy, a bakery that aims to cure cravings and provide emotional remedies by delivering cupcakes directly to students in their dorms or apartments.

Hana Nobel, a senior international affairs and anthropology combined major and co-producer of Scoop, There It Is, said she learned something new every week during her experience in the Husky Startup Challenge. “Anthropology classes don’t really teach you how to make money, so I had to learn all about sales, social media and marketing.”

More than 300 people attended Demo Day to show support for the student ventures.

“The program as a whole is making a tangible impact in developing and supporting entrepreneurial-minded students in all disciplines and colleges,” Bolotsky said.