Some students arrive on campus with a thriving entrepreneurial spirit, eager to soak up knowledge and seek out new opportunities to learn and make a lasting impact. Matt Bilotti, DMSB'15, exemplifies this aura of confidence and curiosity.
“I see every experience as a way to adopt a skill, learn a lesson, or walk away with a new story,” said Bilotti, a business major with concentrations in entrepreneurship and new venture management.
When he took over as president of Northeastern's Entrepreneurs Club in April 2012, its weekly meetings were attended by an average of 90 students, most of whom were studying business. Since then, new programming and aggressive outreach has helped increase average meeting attendance to about 130 students, including many engineering and computer science majors.
Bilotti, for his part, has taken a cue from the club's new members, expanded his entrepreneurial reach beyond Northeastern's walls. On his current co-op at HubSpot, he is one of 12 people dedicated to the online marketing company's Signals team—a free tool that helps salespeople follow up with customers more efficiently. His work involves leading customer support and product management, as well as creating a touchless-support system. He's also the resident “Customer Happiness Expert;” when customers call with complaints or concerns, he takes their feedback to his team, which helps develop solutions to their problems.
Bilotti is also a managing partner of Dorm Room Fund Boston, the local arm of a student-run venture firm that invests in student-run companies. As a member of the investment management team, Bilotti helps students take their ideas from dorm room to market. In fact, Northeastern students Matt Voska, E'17, and Alan Guichard, L'14, recently received funding from Dorm Room Fund Boston to get their small plane-sharing venture Flytenow off the ground.
“It's exciting to represent Northeastern in Boston's greater student entrepreneurship community,” said Bilotti, who was named a 2013 BostInno 50 on Fire finalist for Education.
What's more, Bilotti is also exploring social entrepreneurship through Northeastern's international experiential-learning programs. In the summer of 2012, he participated in a Dialogue of Civilizations program to the Dominican Republic and Cuba, where students worked with poverty-stricken business owners to secure microloans to help grow their businesses. This summer, he will head to South Africa for another entrepreneurship-focused Dialogue program through Northeastern's Social Enterprise Institute. There, Bilotti and his peers will help local entrepreneurs create more sustainable sources of income.
While he's accomplished a lot over the last few years, Bilotti noted that failing has been an important component of his professional and entrepreneurial growth at Northeastern. In the summer of 2012, he worked on co-op as a product manager at influencers@, a startup founded with support from IDEA, Northeastern's student-run venture accelerator. His job involved building, launching, and growing ChatterMob, a two-sided marketplace where users earn prizes in exchange for answering simple market research questions. Unfortunately, ChatterMob didn't pan out—it proved a challenge to get people to pay to have their questions answered.
Still, Bilotti said his co-op was a rewarding experience, one that taught him the ins and outs of working at a startup. Earlier this semester, he took to Twitter to share his experience with the Northeastern community, tweeting, “#iheartcoop because it gave me the opportunity to be entrepreneurial and experience trying to build a company from the ground w/ @ChatterMob.”
“I failed a lot and made mistakes along the way, and those all taught me so much about how I can do things better,” Bilotti explained. “I see the whole experience as a massive learning opportunity for everyone involved.”