John Lloyd got the idea for his startup while working on global co-op in Seville, Spain. He and his friends there would meet up at hostels and converse with locals. He realized these interactions greatly improved his Spanish—and the locals’ English.
This experience led him to co-found Idyoma, a mobile app designed to connect language learners with others nearby, so they can practice the languages in real life. “Our goal is to help you reach fluency,” said Lloyd, DMSB’17, who is the company’s CEO.
Lloyd was among the many student and alumni entrepreneurs on hand Thursday night at NEXPO, the university’s entrepreneurship expo featuring some 30 IDEA ventures as well as a range of Northeastern entrepreneurship programs and resources. IDEA—the university’s student-run venture accelerator—organized the event, which was held in Cabot Center and served as the culmination of Global Entrepreneurship Week at Northeastern.
Throughout the room, visitors were introduced to a range of innovative ideas. There was NextSteps Connect, which is creating an app designed to connect hospital patients with resources they need and the opportunity to provide feedback about their experiences; 3DFortify, which combines 3-D printing and magnetics to create the highest resolution composites and which recently received a $50,000 MassChallenge award; and even a freestyle card game, called The Rap Game, designed for people who are interested in helping people rap. NEXPO also showcased Knightly and Cookin, IDEA startups whose founders joined President Joseph E. Aoun earlier this week for a Facebook Live discussion about student entrepreneurship.
I’m really impressed by what Northeastern is doing.
—Sarah Merion, DMSB’10, founder of EthosWell, speaking about Northeastern’s entrepreneurship programs and resources
Elsewhere in the room, recent alumni Eli Brown, Alex Vipond, and Harrison Ackerman were getting their hands dirty as they discussed The Compost Project, which is focused on turning organic waste into fertilizer. They see their company as part of a growing network of organizations working to improve farming techniques, with the goal of returning vitality to soil. Their approach involves turning Boston’s organic waste into vermicompost, a fertilizer featuring not only soil nutrients but also a microbiome that protects and feeds plant life.
“You look around and see so much food waste,” said Ackerman, SSH’15. The Compost Project, he said, is aiming to solve that problem.
Another budding business on display was Bulletin, a web service that will allow students to efficiently browse through and find campus events that interest them. Bulletin is being developed out of a program the Entrepreneurs Club launched this fall called InNUvate, which was designed to bring together a team of students that spends the semester developing a business or resource focused on improving campus life. Seniors and Bulletin team members Dyan Khur, DMSB’17, and Dan Kohlbrenner, CIS’17, said the goal is to launch the service in January, and NEXPO offered a great opportunity to share it with students at an early stage and get more feedback.
Northeastern graduate Sarah Merion is the founder and CEO of EthosWell, an online destination where people can learn about complementary healthcare and find the best providers. Merion, DMSB’10, said she’s received guidance from the McCarthy(s) Venture Mentoring Network, and noted that building her company through the support of IDEA has helped reconnect her with Northeastern and build a stronger connection to her alma mater.
Speaking of the university’s commitment to providing resources that support and nurture student entrepreneurship, Merion said, “I’m really impressed by what Northeastern is doing.”