Annika Morgan, DMSB’16, didn’t plan on becoming the new face of Northeastern’s thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem.
“I didn’t know where I wanted to land, but I knew that entrepreneurship would be a great place to start,” says Morgan, reflecting on her decision to study business with a concentration in entrepreneurship. “I’ve always been a self-starter, and I thought that having the business knowledge to start a company from the ground up would be valuable no matter what I chose to do.”
The startup bug
Morgan was bit by the startup bug in fall 2011, when she joined the Northeastern Entrepreneurs Club. Ever since then she’s been climbing up the ladder of achievement, stopping at each rung to learn a little something about leadership, the power of teamwork, and the startup life.
Morgan cut her leadership teeth with the Entrepreneurs Club, co-directing its Entrepreneurship Immersion Program from spring 2012 to spring 2013. And she acquitted herself well in the role, parlaying the position into a promotion to vice president of the club itself from fall 2013 to spring 2014.
Her co-op responsibilities, like those within the Entrepreneurs Club, have expanded with each successive experience. First she worked in client services for DataXu, the Boston-based digital advertising startup. Then she designed her own co-op, working as the director of marketing and customer experience for Fresh Truck, the IDEA venture aimed at bringing healthy food to the Boston community.
What captivates her is the people, the movers and shakers in the entrepreneurship ecosystem who exemplify the no-quit attitude. “They’re all-hands-on-deck,” she says. “They want to fix every problem, exploring every solution until the wee hours of the night.”
As CEO of IDEA, Morgan is no different. “Working on something so hard because I believe it in so much is something I really enjoy doing,” she says, “and now I’m inspiring other people to do the same.”
‘Raising money like crazy’
Morgan oversees more than 160 active ventures, many of which have received coaching, mentoring, and gap funding from the program. There’s Crystal, the email app, and Force, the training apparel company. There’s Jobble, the staffing startup, and Wizio, the online apartment marketplace.
Since she became CEO in May, IDEA ventures have raised more than $22 million in external funding. The latest is Mavrck, the micro-influencer marketing platform, which announced on Friday that it had raised $5 million from Kepha Partners and GrandBanks Capital. Others ventures, like Tablelist, the nightlife startup, have begun hiring employees and Northeastern co-op students alike.
As Morgan puts it, “They’re raising money like crazy and giving back to the Northeastern community.”
Under her watch, the entrepreneurs behind the most successful ventures have praised the program for transforming their ideas into full-fledged businesses. “I couldn’t have done this without your team,” they tell her. “Their help has really changed everything.”
The power of collaboration
Over the past six months, Morgan has been working hard to foster collaboration between IDEA and the many other student clubs, mentor groups, and university centers dedicated to entrepreneurship at Northeastern.
Some campus partnerships have already produced impressive results. Scout, the student-led design studio, worked with an IDEA venture called New Grounds Food to design the branding for the startup’s all-natural energy bar. And the student-led Intellectual Property Law Clinic frequently helps burgeoning startups identify potential clients in need of intellectual property guidance.
I’ve always been a self-starter, and I thought that having the business knowledge to start a company from the ground up would be valuable no matter what I chose to do.
— Annika Morgan
“Everyone is so excited about doing what they do best to support campus ventures,” Morgan says. “Students here take the initiative. They want to solve problems and support each other.”
Morgan, for her part, plans to support IDEA even after she graduates in May and relinquishes her CEO role to become a member of the venture accelerator’s advisory board. She sees herself working for an early-stage startup, maybe even Fresh Truck. “I definitely want to work for a company with a social enterprise component,” she says.