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A million dollar student project
Northeastern alumnus Greg Skloot’s event management software startup began as a side project but has quickly turned into a million dollar business.
“It seems like a small problem, but it’s such a pain for people who organize events,” said Skloot, who graduated from Northeastern in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
In less than a year, the new venture has taken off. Last week, Attendware announced it had received a $1 million investment from .406 Ventures a Boston-??based venture capital firm named in honor of Red Sox star Ted Williams’ 1941 batting average.
“Attendware’s offering represents the next generation of event and constituent tracking technology,” said Maria Cirino, managing director at .406 Ventures. “There is an enormous market for this technology and we continue to be blown away by the reception it receives in nearly every market we enter. We’re excited both about the innovative product and the ambitious entrepreneurs behind it.”
Skloot came up with the idea for Attendware as president of Northeastern’s fast-??growing Entrepreneurs Club. Each week the group drew hundreds of members to its meetings and events, but Skloot found it difficult to draw conclusions from the vast array of email lists and sign-??in sheets documenting the club’s membership.
“I would look at the sea of people and think to myself, ‘I don’t know who these people are. Are they freshmen or are they seniors? Are they business majors? Are they here for the first time or are they people who keep coming back?” Skoot recalled. “At the time, the only way to figure all that out was to go through all our documents, a process that was really long and messy.”
Skloot set off to solve that problem in his free time, building the initial prototype while still a student. He designed a web interface that allowed guests to easily sign into an event, collecting and cataloging the data in the process. After graduation, he started taking steps to turn that prototype into a business.
Last October, the venture accelerator MassChallenge used his program—then still a side project—for its 1,400-guest awards dinner at the Massachusetts Convention Center. MassChallenge asked for two things: access to the same login and data collection system Skloot had developed for the E-??Club and the functionality to print nametags at check-??in.
“They asked us for a contract, and that’s really the moment when the whole thing turned into a real business,” Skloot said. “I didn’t start off saying I was CEO of a company. I started slow, treating it as a project first and let it grow organically from there.”