IDEA was founded in 2009 and since then has funded 35 ventures with grants up to $10,000. Just this past month, the Accelerator reached its 500k milestone in venture funding, a monumental milestone for IDEA.
For many student entrepreneurs, starting a company is both an exhilarating and overwhelming task. Many factors go into building a venture: mentoring, financial and legal advice as well as business planning. Often times these factors can come to an entrepreneur with ease, some look to friends or family for advice, others join programs to evaluate and build their business. However, one of the most daunting aspects of launching a venture is securing funding.
This is where IDEA: Northeastern University’s Venture Accelerator comes into play for early-stage ventures. IDEA believes that many startups will encounter challenges that call for capitol to close gaps currently stopping them from hitting their next critical milestone. By granting ventures small amounts of capitol in these phases, entrepreneurs will learn how to identify their needs and justify them to an advisory board. The main purpose of the gap fund is to propel ventures from where they are now to their next milestone through a learning process where they evaluate every aspect of their business. It is the scrutiny of their business plan that proves to be a learning tool, and that is the most important product of the gap fund.
Each venture is paired with a coach who works on their business plan, introducing them to their network, and offers their services to ventures.Those ventures looking to receive funding through IDEA are put through a rigorous vetting processes by both the coaching and investment teams.
The members of the investment team comb through each business plan they receive and select those they think are ready to be sent to IDEA’s Advisory Board every two months, which is comprised of members who have made financial contributions to the fund. The ventures then prepare a presentation of their company, their projections and an explanation of the milestones they plan to accomplish with the grant.
Collectively IDEA ventures have raised $6.4 million in external funding and 14 have effectively launched their businesses into the market. The gap funding process is one of the most exciting aspects of IDEA because it helps entrepreneurs learn how to recognize critical milestones in the development of a venture, how to articulate them to boards of their peers, and to have a better chance to bring what was once a dream to fruition.