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The startup matchmaker

Members of the university’s entrepreneurship community convened Wednesday to formally launch the Daniel J. McCarthy(s) Venture Mentoring Network, which is designed to match student, alumni, and faculty entrepreneurs with experienced alumni and other industry professionals.

The mentoring network will build upon Northeastern’s flourishing entrepreneurial spirit and initiatives. Organizers looked to two programs in particular with strong mentoring components—IDEA, the student-run venture accelerator, and the Health Sciences Entrepreneurs Program—for best practices that could be incorporated into this network.

Housed within the Northeastern University Center for Entrepreneurship Education, the network’s goal is to fortify Northeastern’s innovation culture, which also includes the Center for Research Innovation, the Social Enterprise Institute, the student-run Northeastern Entrepreneurs Club, and other events and resources. Students also gain entrepreneurial experience while on co-op and through other experiential learning opportunities.

“Our vision is for a university-wide innovation ecosystem,” said Dan McCarthy, the Alan S. McKim and Richard A. D’Amore Distinguished Professor of Global Management and Innovation and co-director of the Center for Entrepreneurship Education.

The concept for the mentoring network germinated at a dinner meeting in 2012 between Dan McCarthy and venture capitalist Jeff McCarthy, DMSB’77. Their families jointly invested $1 million to found the new, university-wide mentoring program. The gift also established the Daniel J. McCarthy(s) Venture Mentoring Fund in tribute to Dan’s Northeastern career and Jeff and his wife Cindy’s late son, Danny.

Wednesday marked the first of a series of bimonthly lunches, a cornerstone of the Venture Mentoring Network, where entrepreneurs pitch their ventures to potential mentors and describe their current mentorship needs. Presenters representing the five startups were Northeastern faculty members and alumni, some of whom were joined by their other business partners.

Matthew Osofisan, DMSB’11, and his business partner Zack Smith presented their startup Jobble, a web and mobile platform that connects event managers and marketers with people looking for part-time work. They said the company fits a marketplace need to help event organizers find temporary staff for a variety of roles, often on short notice.

“We wanted to start a marketplace to easily connect these people,” Osofisan explained. Jobble has already received gap funding from IDEA and is now beta testing and looking for help with understanding marketplace dynamics and raising more capital.

Edgar Goluch, the DiPietro Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering, presented his startup QSM Diagnostics, Inc., which he founded in October and is based on his sensor technology research at Northeastern. He is developing wearable sensors that would give users with wounds an early warning that their injuries are infected and signal the need for treatment before symptoms arise. The venture builds upon Goluch’s study of bacterial cells and biofilms as well as his research focusing on developing micro and nanoscale fluidic devices for detecting various biological entities.

“It’s like a canary in the coal mine that gives you an early warning to take action,” Goluch said of the benefits of his sensor technology. He noted that potential customers include hospitals, surgical centers, outpatient clinics, and retirement homes, while listing as potential partners wireless communications and mobile technology firms and companies that make wound dressings.

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