WeBuild empowers young entrepreneurs and fosters a sense of community


This semester’s members of WeBuild work together on a broad range of personal projects. Photo courtesy Lisa Phan.

Alyssa Fell, news staff

Every Monday night, the participants of WeBuild, one of three groups that make up the Women’s Interdisciplinary Society of Entrepreneurship, or WISE, gather to develop their passion projects and learn hard technical skills and soft interpersonal skills, often with the help of guest speakers. 

WeBuild began in 2019 shortly after the launch of WISE at Northeastern. At the start of the semester, female identifying and nonbinary individuals apply to be a part of the WeBuild cohort, and eight to 10 students are selected. WeBuild is a thought incubator that works to support these entrepreneurs in the early stages of making their passion projects, guiding them in their ideations and business journeys. 

“I think first and foremost [the mission of WISE and WeBuild] is creating a safe space for women to learn about business,” said Rachel Harrell, a fourth-year journalism and English combined major and co-vice president of WeBuild. “But even beyond that, it’s a safe space to grow personally and feel empowered by those who you’re surrounded with.”  

WeBuild participants move at their own pace as they develop their projects throughout the duration of the program, with some focusing on conducting research and some on constructing a physical product. 

“I feel like it’s very common among Northeastern students where we’re very ambitious and with ambition comes comparison more often than not,” Harrell said. “So I’m really trying to just make sure that everybody recognizes that they’re at different stages and we support them wherever they are and point them in whatever direction they need.” 

Nandita Jain, a first-year business administration major and a participant in the fall 2021 cohort, is currently in the trial stage with her project, Unify. Jain’s app aims to connect high school students with college students as a way to receive guidance throughout the college application and decision process. 

She began designing her project in high school, seeing a gap in the marketplace while going through the college admissions process herself. 

“If I wasn’t in WeBuild, I think I would’ve given up with this project,” Jain said. 

With WeBuild’s support, Jain has been able to create a minimum viable product, or MVP, which is a prototype used for testing or to display the attributes of a product, taking the form of a Google survey, which will act as a trial run for the future Unity app. Jain continues to explore the design process and hopes to grow the number of college students involved in her service. 

Along with Jain’s tangible feats, she said she has found a sense of guidance through WeBuild and feels supported and empowered in her entrepreneurial adventures. 

“WeBuild [does] a good job at motivating women and making women feel like they are capable and [that] imposter syndrome shouldn’t be an obstacle for us,” Jain said. “It’s a really good place for my mental health.” 

Chua’s app, I-Can, is designed to help children keep on track with their daily tasks. Photo courtesy Elaine Chua.

Like Jain, Elaine Chua, a first-year business administration major and a current WeBuild participant, drew inspiration from her own experiences, hoping to create an app focused on helping children with disabilities become more independent.

The parent and child’s app, I-Can, would sync so that the parent could import daily tasks for the child. The app would have the capabilities for the child to also complete phone-based responsibilities, such as calling or messaging someone, through the app’s interface instead of relating on multiple platforms, which may overwhelm them.

“Essentially, the app is sort of like a one stop shop for everything,” Chua said. “So my vision going into it was having an app with like a bunch of widgets on it so that it would be super accessible for the kids.”

Chua is currently exploring the design process and is excited to potentially partner with the Northeastern clubs like Scout or Generate to make her app a reality. 

WeBuild participants who spoke with The News stressed how inspiring it is to learn about each other’s projects. The community works to celebrate the accomplishments of students like Kalli Miller. When  Miller, a third-year business administration and design combined major and current WeBuild participant, showed the newest rendition of her passion project, a rainbow shaped jewelry holder, at a weekly meeting, she was met with excitement. 

Miller’s rainbow jewelry holder has been through six iterations, and other members of WeBuild have helped her refine the design. Photo courtesy Kalli Miller.

Miller’s passion project has evolved from a larger e-commerce platform she had created a mock-up for in a design class to a product she could sell herself. She drew inspiration for the rainbow shape from Pinterest and began making prototypes this summer. 

“I realized that I needed more help figuring out how to start my own business and actually selling them,” Miller said. “My ambitions were a little too high for what I could do on my own.” 

Miller has created six versions of her jewelry holder design, tweaking different aspects of it and having other cohort members take the product home to try it and provide feedback. 

“I didn’t know anyone going into WeBuild,” Miller said. “It feels like I have a ton of new friends that are kind of supportive no matter what and so excited for each other.” 

To those in WeBuild, WISE embodies positivity, motivation and community. 

“WISE in general is so, so great, truly organic and very authentic,” said Richa Shah, a third-year business administration student and co-vice president of WeBuild.

The WeBuild participants will continue to develop and produce their passion projects after this semester concludes. With the assistance of WeBuild, the students now have added support and direction to bolster their ideas and make them a reality, while remaining mindful of their mental health as women and non-binary individuals in the business world.

“If you have a passion for something, and you see opportunities … like WeBuild … you should just go ahead and apply for it and just try it,” Chua said. “Because you never know what it’ll turn out to be.”