By Elise Harmon, news editor
Five members of Northeastern University’s Entrepreneurs Club and local startup founder Josh Trautwein gathered in a private room at South End restaurant Tremont 647 on Monday to discuss everything from building a small business to devising an idea for a startup. Dining on salad, a variety of entrees and banana pudding, students asked Trautwein, founder of Fresh Truck and a Northeastern alumnus, about his experiences and insights.
The event was one of six dinners with founders, CEOs and innovators that the Entrepreneurs Club organized this semester. Up to six students can attend each event.
“For our weekly meetings, a lot of times people don’t have the opportunity to have their questions answered because of time restraints,” Zac Glover, a senior business major and the program’s director, said. “We thought that with the dinners, we’d be able to provide our members with the opportunity to have a more intimate conversation with our entrepreneurs.”
Previously, the club has offered dinners with Ben Kneppers, the co-founder and COO of Bureo Skateboards, and Sarah Gaines, founder and CEO of Fit University. Both are Northeastern graduates.
According to Glover, the leaders of the club wanted to invite Northeastern alumni who’ve recently founded companies.
“Our members can see somebody who’s not too much further along who they can relate to,” he said. “A lot of the entrepreneurs that we bring in are also Northeastern [alumni], so they can talk about Northeastern and the resources available here.”
Trautwein graduated from Northeastern in 2010 with a degree in sociology. He started Fresh Truck in 2013 after a Kickstarter campaign raised over $30,000 for the venture. The truck sells fresh produce straight from a refurbished school bus with the aim to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables to communities where people may not be used to eating healthy.
“My interest as an entrepreneur is in social entrepreneurship,” he said. “I’m not breaking the bank selling fruit from a bus in low-income neighborhoods where people don’t necessarily know how to eat well yet.”
He offered students advice on how to start a business while in college and how to make the most of Northeastern’s resources. He advised students to learn how to “walk into a room and act like you’re supposed to be there,” a skill he said he didn’t have until recently.
“I’m basically blown away by the amount of resources there are to help you with your ideas,” Nick Passaro, a sophomore entrepreneurship major who attended the dinner, said of IDEA, a venture accelerator housed at Northeastern.
Senior communications major Courtney Byer said she appreciated that Trautwein started Fresh Truck after college.
“I feel like there are a lot of people out there that say college is the best time to start a business,” Byer said. “It’s good to hear that [Trautwein] was able to start something afterward.”
There will be three more dinners at Tremont 647 with John Vaskis from Indiegogo on Oct. 26, a to-be-determined speaker on Nov. 9 and Desmond Lim, founder of Quickforce, on Nov. 28.
Photo courtesy Zac Glover