A million dollar student project


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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.”