Christopher Wolfel of Northeastern University, CEO of IDEA: Northeastern’s Venture Accelerator, strives to make the program the best of its kind in the world.
Class of 2013
Major: Business Administration
Christopher Wolfel is a senior business administration student at Northeastern University pursuing a BSBA (Bachelors of Science in Business Administration) with a dual concentration in entrepreneurship and marketing and a minor in emerging markets. He is a Dean’s list student, a brother of Kappa Sigma, and the CEO of IDEA: Northeastern’s Venture Accelerator, a student-led, university-supported educational and experiential program that aims to create self-sustaining and investment-ready ventures.
Growing up with a father who ran his own general contracting company, Chris knew from day one that he wanted to get involved with entrepreneurship and startups. Chris quickly got involved in multiple entrepreneurship-related organizations as soon as he got to Northeastern and eventually joined the IDEA team as events manager in Spring 2010 just a few months after the program had started. In this role he was able to grow events such as NEXPO and Investor Insights. NEXPO is an expo that showcases IDEA ventures while Investor Insights allows ventures, students, and members of the community to ask candid questions to a panel of angel investors and venture capitalists.
After completing a coop at EMC in sales, Chris took on an Inside Sales Coop at Nine Technology (sold to Imation which was heavily impacted by the partner base developed by Chris & SVP of Sales Gene Fay) and took over the marketing officer position of IDEA.
When asked why he took on both positions pretty much full time, Chris responded, “I like challenging myself and I had a real passion for both helping build Nine Tech and IDEA.”
While the marketing officer for IDEA, Christopher ran the marketing strategy, oversaw an events and communications team, and drove a business development push that helped catapult IDEA to 50 active ventures in a little over a year.
In December 2011, Chris was promoted yet again, but this time to CEO of IDEA, and from day one has had one mission: “To make IDEA the go-to venture creation center for any Northeastern venture; student, faculty, or alum – and the best program of its kind in the world.”
Under Chris’ leadership and an extremely dedicated team, IDEA has grown to 85 active ventures, in all stages of development, and the annual Gap Fund budget has grown to $210,000. The Gap Fund is an IDEA program that awards $10,000 grants (no payback required, no equity taken) to ventures seven times a year. This strategy of numerous small grants “floats many boats and allows a greater impact on more ventures than a traditional business plan competition.”
When asked to describe IDEA in a few short thoughts, Chris said: “We provide ventures the tools they need to succeed; a structured business planning methodology; coaches; mentors; a network of service providers; funding; and a few other tools as well, but we push them too.”
Chris currently is working on IDEA full time as his coop and will finish up classes in May. Upon graduation, Christopher plans to go into the startup world. When asked where, he said, “That I’m still trying to figure out… but I’m pretty much open to anything.”
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