NU entrepreneurial society launches in NYC

Amanda Laabs

Aspiring entrepreneurs heading to the Big Apple after graduation will find a Northwestern network waiting for them.

The recently launched NU Startup Society of NYC connects NU alumni business entrepreneurs in New York City in a community that blends the members’ diverse experiences and resources. The society provides mentorship for startup companies in monthly meetings and e-mail networking, said the group’s co-founder Adam Sachs, Communication ’05.

“Starting a business is a bit lonely in the professional sense,” he said. “You can see what you’ve done but not where you’re going. Having a community like this really helps to figure things out and brighten the way.”

The society is valuable because it brings together a group of entrepreneurs with different experiences at varying levels of enterprise development, said Sachs, who also co-founded Ignighter.com, a dating Web site. Startup Society helps others find cheap legal counsel, provides guidance about advertising strategies or offers tips on getting funding, he said.

“We can all learn from each other’s mistakes,” he said. “It helps get questions answered that otherwise wouldn’t be able to get answered.”

The group is only open to NU alumni, which makes the society a more open and inviting forum, said Ryan Martinez, Communication ’05.

“Knowing that we all have that in common creates a certain comfort level,” said Martinez, who added that he wanted to start his own street-team marketing company. “We can share ideas and ask questions and not be embarrassed.”

This sense of camaraderie is important in such a big city because it allows each member of the group to relate on a deeper level, said Clarke Nobiletti, Weinberg ’06, who added that he plans to launch an online travel guide and networking site for study abroad students on June 1.

“We’re more than just a bunch of entrepreneurs struggling with our startups,” he said. “I would use the services of the other members because I know and trust them before I went to any outside providers.”

Sachs said the group is looking to expand in the future by adding more members and potentially creating more societies in large cities across the United States. He encourages any current or former NU students who are interested to get involved.

“I don’t want anyone to feel self-conscious about the progress of their company,” he said. “Everyone should join – the more experience and perspective we have in the group, the better.”

Devin Balkind, Communication ’08, said he hopes the group will one day “kindle” the entrepreneurial spirit of current NU students.

“I really encourage existing Northwestern students to start up their own companies,” said Balkind, the founder of a prototype fundraising tool for nonprofits. “It would be great if we could become a voice for that.”

Louise Huterstein, the founder of Wildcat Express Delivery, said she believes many NU students are interested in entrepreneurship but get so “bogged down” in academics that they often don’t network with each other.

“It seems ironic that these people don’t connect until after graduation,” the Communication junior said. “But these kinds of networks are golden opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs.”

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