Start Me Up

Wentworth’s New Student Entrepreneurship Program Helps Students Turn Their Big Ideas into the Next Big Thing

IT’S NEARING 5:00 P.M. ON JULY 28, and a steady stream of students begins to file into the Evans Way /Tudbury Auditorium. They settle into groups, huddled around laptops, delivering presentations to the walls. The room is anxious. Tonight is important. As part of Wentworth’s inaugural Accelerate program, a new student-business startup competition, student teams have the opportunity to tell a panel of judges about their game-changing idea and potentially walk away with thousands in funding to get it off the ground.

accelerate11The lights are lowered, and the pitches start. There’s a team that wants to start a kind of Netflix for moving boxes, offering Boston’s massive college market the ability to rent durable, stackable crates rather than the traditional, more expensive, less environmentally friendly cardboard boxes. Another group has plans for a new portable speaker system that would offer both a rugged body and clear sound. There’s even a team that wants to revolutionize the modern pedicab—those human-powered, three-wheeled bicycle rickshaws.

The pedicab team, made up of Eric Crouch, BMET ’12, and John Pelkey, BIND ’12, takes the stage with a presentation they’ve been fine-tuning for weeks. Pelkey does the talking. First, an intro to the world of pedicabs. (“This is the most fun you can have in Boston, I’m telling you.”) Then he walks through the big advantages of their new, improved model: reliability, aesthetics, ergonomics, cost-effectiveness. He talks about how 28 of the cabs ordered by the company he works for needed repairs within their first year of operation and how the new drivetrain he and Crouch developed will save thousands of dollars.

A few months ago, Crouch and Pelkey’s new pedicab was an idea for their senior design studio—a cool project, but one whose ultimate purpose was academic. Now it looked like something that could live beyond the walls of Wentworth. Something that could meet a market need. Something that could make money. Pelkey and Crouch aren’t just thinking like students anymore—they are thinking like CEOs.

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