As bone-​​chilling winds swept across the city of Boston Wednesday night, Daniel Hen­nagin, E'17, stood con­fi­dently in the slightly warmer con­fines of Northeastern's Cabot Cage don­ning a black tank top with the phrase, “I'm exer­cising my right to bare arms.” 

At first glance, the chem­ical engi­neering major appeared severely under­dressed for this time of year; but on this night, he had a good reason to go sleeve­less. His tank top pro­duc­tion com­pany, Send In The Tanks, was one of about 50 ven­tures on dis­play at NEXPO, the semi-​​annual cel­e­bra­tion of entrepreneurs.

The event is spon­sored by IDEA, Northeastern's student-​​run ven­ture accel­er­ator, which pro­vides stu­dents and alumni with a range of resources—mentorship and coaching, gap funding, and con­nec­tions to investors, to name a few—to help turn their entre­pre­neurial ideas into thriving businesses.

“It's really hard to break into the apparel industry, espe­cially in a place where people can only wear your clothes to the gym or five months out of the year,” explained Hen­nagin, who was par­tic­i­pating in his third NEXPO event. His company's tank tops come in a variety of colors and with a range of slo­gans to show funny can also be cool.

IDEA's CEO Max Kaye, DMSB'14, said this semester's NEXPO pro­vided a valu­able oppor­tu­nity for ven­tures to show­case their work to the entre­pre­neurial com­mu­nity and net­work with the some 450 attendees.

Tiffany Kelley, a 2008 alumna of Northeastern's nursing grad­uate pro­gram and MBA pro­gram, par­tic­i­pated in her second NEXPO event. Kelley founded the mobile health infor­ma­tion tech­nology com­pany Nightin­gale Apps, which said gen­er­ated a lot of interest from atten­dees both within and out­side the health­care industry.

Kelley said Nightin­gale Apps is trying to improve patient care while also making nurses' lives a little easier on the job. The venture's first mobile app is called Know My Patient; it offers work­flow spe­cific mod­ules that allow nurses to use patient infor­ma­tion more efficiently.

“We got such awe­some feed­back,” Kelley said. “There aren't a lot of nurses here but a lot of people are inter­ested in what we are doing.”

Kelley, who is a part-​​time lec­turer in the School of Nursing, has worked closely with IDEA to help develop her ven­ture. She took part in the organization's alumni boot camp and is working on a busi­ness plan in the hopes of get­ting gap funding.

IDEA is an impor­tant part of North­eastern University's larger ecosystem that sup­ports and fos­ters the entre­pre­neurial spirit of its stu­dents, staff, and alumni. Another is the Husky Startup Chal­lenge. Spon­sored by the North­eastern Entre­pre­neurs Club, HSC is a semester-​​long busi­ness devel­op­ment com­pe­ti­tion that includes boot­camps, net­working events, and an end-​​of-​​semester demo day.

The winner of the spring 2013 Husky Startup Challenge's audi­ence favorite award was Cof­feeBar, whose co-​​founders and first employee were at NEXPO with sam­ples of the company's mocha latte bar. It's an all-​​natural, vegan, gluten-​​free bar that con­tains a shot of espresso.

Co-​​founders Johnny Fayad and Ali Kothari, both DMSB'17, came up with the idea last year to com­bine a nutri­tious bar with a cup of joe after real­izing last year they often didn't have time in the morning to make break­fast and coffee.

“Learning food sci­ence was really inter­esting and a little dif­fi­cult on top of learning how to run a busi­ness,” Fayad said. “But it has been very rewarding.”