Looking to turn an idea into a business? Husky Startup Challenge offers just that

Northeastern alum Alex Perez, DMSB’12 tests out a new venture during Demo Day on April 13, 2015, part of the Husky Startup Challenge. Applications for the fall 2016 Husky Startup Challenge close Tuesday at midnight. Photo by Maria Amasanti/for Northeastern University

Turning an idea into a business takes a lot of work and strategic planning—both of which the Husky Startup Challenge program can help foster. The first step, though, is signing up.

Applications for this semester’s Husky Startup Challenge opened last week, and will close Tuesday at midnight.

The six-week program is held each semester by the Northeastern Entrepreneurs Club. The challenge supports students’ entrepreneurial spirit through a series of boot camps, workshops, and networking opportunities. The program culminates with Demo Day, when student entrepreneurs pitch their companies to an audience of business owners, investors, and fellow students.

“We’ve seen that this is really students’ first opportunity to get involved in entrepreneurship on campus; it’s the first thing they do to launch their own company,” said John Puma, DMSB’17, the club’s vice president of programs.

The Husky Startup Challenge is designed to take would-be entrepreneurs through the process, from idea to successful business, by introducing them to the myriad facets of running a business. To that end, weekly boot camps feature guest speakers who have expertise in different areas of business.

Attendance at all five boot camps is not required, but attendance at a majority of them is expected, Puma said. The next boot camp is Saturday, Oct. 1, from noon to 4 p.m.

The program is open to all students, including graduate and doctoral students. Students don’t have to have an idea yet to get involved, either. There are opportunities to cultivate ideas or join up with a team already working on a project as part of the Startup Challenge.

Puma said that more than 90 applications had been submitted as of Monday morning. There’s no limit to the number of applications that will be accepted.

“That’s a little higher than usual,” Puma said, an indication of the program’s growing success.

“We’ve seen a big impact over the past few years,” he said. “Last semester, we had 20 different ventures pitch at Demo Day, with 50 to 60 students as part of those teams.”

Recent ventures that got their start in the Husky Startup Challenge include New Grounds Food, a company that offers a coffee-infused energy bar, and grabbed the attention of IDEA which provided gap funding; Dash, creators of an electric skateboard; and Wizio, a company specializing in virtual reality apartment tours and also an IDEA funding recipient.

This semester, Demo Day will be held on Monday, Nov. 14, kicking off Global Entrepreneurship Week on campus.