Deadlines can bring out the best in people. In Hannah Ung’s case, a half-hour before her presentation to a class at Northeastern, she decided on a name for her proposed startup: Boxy.
A year later, Boxy is in business—enabling college students to rent out storage space in private homes for their belongings, like an Airbnb for their furniture, clothes and other personal effects.
Ung’s innovation has earned her a place in BostInno’s 25 Under 25 class of elite young founders, nonprofit leaders, startup employees and students. Joining her on the select list were another five Northeastern students or graduates: Rachel Domb, Naren Kolli, Samantha Johnson, Anya Losik and Alex Marley.
“BostInno is the flagship market across the 45 cities that comprise America Inno, and it’s only in a couple of cities, such as Boston, where we have so much talent under 25,” said Doug Banks, executive editor of BostInno and the Boston Business Journal. “Northeastern and the other world-class universities in and around Boston are a huge contributor to that young talent.”
Ung understands how Northeastern entrepreneurs were able to dominate the list of innovators and leaders.
“I feel the support that I get from the entrepreneurial ecosystem at Northeastern,” says Ung, a transfer student who will be graduating in 2023 in business administration with concentrations in brand management as well as entrepreneurship and new venture management. “One of the reasons why I wanted to transfer to Northeastern was for experiential learning; I wasn’t really looking into entrepreneurship but coming here and just seeing all the resources that they have for entrepreneurship in general has been amazing.”
Ung, who carries an innovation notebook to jot down ideas during her solo travels, developed the premise for Boxy as part of “Marketing strategies for startups,” a class taught by Professor Cheryl Mitteness. Ung realized the need for her service as far back as 2018 while preparing for a trip to Japan. Where was she going to stow her things?
“It definitely has something to do with my upbringing, growing up in a low-income household where we always have to share space in the house,” says Ung, who grew up in Rhode Island. “So I have an appreciation for sharing in general—and that includes space—and that is a mantra of how I live life: To share it with the people around me and also make the most out of all resources that are available to me.”
Boxy can be equally helpful for people renting out space, she says.
“Especially people in the low-income community or anyone interested in making the most out of what they have,” Ung says. “I find it so inspiring to see Uber drivers or Airbnb hosts who monetize something that they already have.”
Ung says Boxy’s pilot launch in August was successful. She’s now seeking to connect with Northeastern students who are preparing to temporarily leave the Boston campus for co-ops or semesters abroad.
“They can go to the Boxy website,” says Ung, who will handle each order personally. “Once they’re signed up, I can get them all sorted out for their storage needs.”
Ung plans on turning her management of Boxy into a full-time career after graduation.
“I’m happy that I know what I want to do after college and that this is the only goal I’ll be focusing on,” she says.
The other Northeastern awardees were honored for their promising accomplishments across a range of fields:
- Rachel Domb, a fourth-year student in sustainability economics. Via Rooted Living, the sustainable food brand she founded as a freshman, Domb has created a line of eco-friendly, plant-based snacks that use compostable packing.
- Naren Kolli, a senior in electrical and computer engineering. Kolli, a former director of Northeastern’s Entrepreneurs Club, recently launched the Boston Innovation Hub—a network linking more than 300 students from Northeastern and a half-dozen other leading universities in the Boston area.
- Samantha Johnson, a double Husky in bioengineering. Johnson is founder of Tatum Robotics, a startup that is developing a breakthrough communication tool to provide global support for DeafBlind individuals (who are concurrently deaf and blind).
- Anya Losik, a graduate in political science and environmental studies. As new chief of staff at Forge, a nonprofit that has helped more than 500 startups turn their prototypes into impactful businesses, Losik’s leadership is crucial to strategic planning, process improvement and other areas.
- Alex Marley, a graduate in electrical engineering and economics. Marley, a self-starter who devoted himself to learning about entrepreneurship at Northeastern, manages the Boston office of Dorm Room Fund—the original venture fund for students—while working full-time as an engineer at Cometeer, a startup focused on precision brewing and freeze-preserving coffee.
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Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University