Northeastern WISE Summit aims to bring women ‘one step closer’ to entrepreneurial goals

wise logo that looks like a green W
Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

Fourth-year Northeastern student Meghan D’Arcy was a freshman when she won a ticket to the WISE Summit and discovered the entrepreneurial spirit.

D’Arcy was so moved and “really inspired” by the serendipitous event she joined the Women’s Interdisciplinary Society of Entrepreneurship.

“I took a chance on going and met a lot of great people, and I realized that WISE would be a good spot for me on campus,” D’Arcy says.

As the head of Summit 2023, D’Arcy wants to bring the same entrepreneurial inspiration to others at this year’s event on Saturday, March 18, at the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex building on the Boston campus. Registration is $20 through Friday, March 17.

“I hope that no matter where attendees are in their entrepreneurship journey, whether they have an idea in their head or they have no idea what entrepreneurship means, that they get one step closer to seeing how it can impact their lives,” D’Arcy says. “Whether that’s meeting a co-founder or even signing up to take an entrepreneurship class.”

The Summit—the biggest event of the year for WISE—aims to provide students at Northeastern and in the Greater Boston area an opportunity to connect with a diverse group of female and non-binary business founders and entrepreneurs. The theme this year is “Created by Courage.” 

“A lot of women and people interested in entrepreneurship, especially in an interdisciplinary context, have this predefined vision of what that is. They think it’s someone who starts a company. But there are many ways that we can all be entrepreneurial outside of quitting our jobs and starting a company,” D’Arcy says.

“So I think our theme Created by Courage is really about having the courage to find what entrepreneurship looks like for you, and then kind of moving past fear and doubt in all the concerns that go with tackling anything new or challenging, and just having the courage to keep moving forward.”

The Summit that D’Arcy attended in her freshman year was the first such event. COVID-19 forced the cancellation of any Summit in 2020 and 2021, and it returned last year, with nearly 300 people attending. 

“I would say we’re authentic in who we are and dedicated to inspiring women founders and entrepreneurs. Everyone on the Summit team is really passionate about giving these experiences to students,” says D’Arcy, who will graduate in May with a business administration and design degree, with a concentration in entrepreneurship and interaction design.

The three keynote Summit speakers are Jules Pieri, CEO and co-founder of The Grommet, an investor at XFactor Ventures, author and ex-Fortune 500 executive; Irene Li, co-founder at PrepShift, co-founder at Mei Mei Restaurant Group; and Emily Herrera, investor at Night Ventures, founder and syndicate lead at the Wiress.

The workshops include building your own business plan; personal finance; diversity and cultural agility; business intelligence; storytelling for business; R&D, product development; developing a sales strategy; and product management.

“The aim of the workshops is to create experiences that you wouldn’t get in a class or maybe just by sitting at a keynote or a panel event. So it’s about exposure,” D’Arcy says. “If we can inspire one person to find something they didn’t think they’d love before or try something new, then that’s the aim of it.”

WISE was founded by Eliana Berger and Mia Nguyen in 2018 with the mission of getting women more involved in entrepreneurship. The student-run group has about 1,200 members at Northeastern, D’Arcy says. Many current Northeastern students and WISE members have founded successful enterprises. 

Hannah Ung started Boxy, a business that allows college students to rent out storage space in private homes for their belongings, like an Airbnb for their furniture, clothes and other personal effects. Ung plans to turn her management of Boxy into a full-time career after she graduates in May.

Fourth-year student Rachel Domb’s desire for healthy snacks developed into a thriving business venture: Rooted Living. The ever-growing popularity of the eco-friendly, plant-based snacks that use compostable packaging has turned the brand into marketable merchandise. 

Michelle Baudette founded Kaolin Beauty, non-toxic, zero-waste makeup and self-care company 

D’Arcy says the entrepreneurial ecosystem at Northeastern is outstanding.

“There’s so many amazing organizations. I think that we’re all kind of moving entrepreneurship forward together,” D’Arcy says. “In my experience, Northeastern cares a lot about entrepreneurship, and every year we see more and more interest and excitement around it.”

WISE is dedicated to “helping women and non-binary folks develop an innovative mindset through interactive workshops, a thought-incubator, mentorship pairings and a venture catalyst,” according to its webpage. The organization is part of the Mosaic umbrella of entrepreneurship at Northeastern University. 

Mark Conti is managing editor of Northeastern Global News. Follow him on Twitter @markconti11