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This post originally appeared on News@Northeastern. It was published by Cody Mello-Klein.

When Hanna Elzaridi, DMSB'23 started her freshman year in 2019 at Northeastern in London, the idea of starting a company was just a dream. Two years later, that dream has become a reality: Elzaridi co-founded SOAR Vending, a protein powder and sports supplement vending machine venture, with her best friend, fellow Northeastern student Chloe Welch, DMSB'23.

Together, Elzaridi and Welch have taken SOAR from just a concept to a prototype that, on its first day in Marino Recreation Center, sold out within six hours. However, they were not alone––at every step they had a little help from Mosaic, Northeastern's network of student-led entrepreneurship organizations. Only by working with other young entrepreneurs across the Mosaic network was SOAR Vending able to take flight, Elzaridi said.

“Honestly, without the support of the organizations we've worked with we couldn't have done this, in terms of spacing, in terms of financial support, in terms of overall moral support,” Elzaridi said.

On Friday, Northeastern was honored with an Excellence in Student Engagement Award at the Deshpande Symposium's Awards for Excellence in Innovation and Entrepreneurship for Mosaic. Chris Wolfel, head of entrepreneurship and venture creation at the Roux Institute at Northeastern and the managing director of NUCEE, the organization that houses Mosaic, said the award is a recognition of the hard work students have put into their various organizations.

When Hanna Elzaridi started her freshman year in 2019 at Northeastern in London, the idea of starting a company was just a dream. Two years later, that dream has become a reality: Elzaridi co-founded SOAR Vending, a protein powder and sports supplement vending machine venture, with her best friend, fellow Northeastern student Chloe Welch.

Together, Elzaridi and Welch have taken SOAR from just a concept to a prototype that, on its first day in Marino Recreation Center, sold out within six hours. However, they were not alone––at every step they had a little help from Mosaic, Northeastern's network of student-led entrepreneurship organizations. Only by working with other young entrepreneurs across the Mosaic network was SOAR Vending able to take flight, Elzaridi said.

“Honestly, without the support of the organizations we've worked with we couldn't have done this, in terms of spacing, in terms of financial support, in terms of overall moral support,” Elzaridi said.

On Friday, Northeastern was honored with an Excellence in Student Engagement Award at the Deshpande Symposium's Awards for Excellence in Innovation and Entrepreneurship for Mosaic. Chris Wolfel, head of entrepreneurship and venture creation at the Roux Institute at Northeastern and the managing director of NUCEE, the organization that houses Mosaic, said the award is a recognition of the hard work students have put into their various organizations.

But before there was a Mosaic, there were just a few scattered student groups like IDEA, the first of these organizations. In the beginning, Dan Gregory, the founding faculty advisor of IDEA, said the concept of an entirely student-run endeavor was a hard sell to early investors like Eric Young, a venture capitalist who would go on to serve as a founder of Mosaic. Young remained committed to Mosaic until his death on Oct. 23, 2021, at 65.

“These are not student clubs. These are formal university organizations that can go raise money, so they need bylaws, and they need things around hiring people and nondiscriminatory kinds of practices,” Gregory said.

Gregory, Young, and a select few other faculty or adult mentors provided guidance early on, but the success or failure of each student venture has always rested on the students who devote their time to Mosaic's organizations. 

“They get to make all the big decisions, and we're here to help as much as possible and offer historical information as well as other big picture things,” Tyler Farley, an alum who now serves as the Mosaic Fellow, a one-year, donor-supported position that supports student leaders in the organizations, said. “But they're the ones running the show.”

“They're taking the skills that they learn and applying them to almost every industry … in so many different types of roles and excelling because they had experiences as student leaders in these organizations where they were able to test out their own styles and manage their peers and deal with tough conversations and celebrate the big wins,” added Gwen Corner, program manager for IDEA.

For Renee Pearce, Scout's incoming executive director, the Mosaic experience has been an emotional one too. Pearce said working with other student designers in a real-client environment gave her the confidence to continue in her design major at a time when she was questioning her own talent and direction.

“Gradually, I started gaining more confidence, and I realized that I'm actually good at what I do, and I have a lot of potential,” Pearce said. “I think if I didn't join Scout, I would know that and I wouldn't have the courage to apply for co-ops, to apply for this position, and to help other people in terms of design.”

It's these kinds of stories that, in addition to the accolades, have defined Mosaic's success over the past seven years. From plant-based granola venture Rooted Living, to PowerHouse's compact solar technology, to Elzaridi's vending machines, there are countless stories of success and struggle in Mosaic, but they are all important milestones for Northeastern's entrepreneurs.

“It's a lot more difficult than we anticipated,” Elzaridi said of her work on SOAR, “but what really excites me is seeing SOAR in gyms. Chloe and I both talk about the day that we walk into a gym and see SOAR there and we didn't know it was one of our customers.”

Read more at News@Northeastern