The Garage today announced the selection of five students for a program that supports entrepreneurial innovation at the undergraduate level. The Little Joe Ventures Fellowship, made possible by a gift from Tony Owen ’97, ’03 MBA, and his wife, Monique, provides robust programming, domestic and international trips, and $5,000 stipends, among other things designed to help the students pursue entrepreneurship.
The five new LJV Fellows, who have a wide range of backgrounds and interests, were selected by a faculty and staff committee from a pool of more than 20 sophomores nominated by faculty and staff. They form the second cohort of the Fellowship, which was launched a year ago. The Fellowship starts in the spring of sophomore year and ends at graduation.
“This year’s nominees were all exceptionally strong, a great indicator of the outstanding entrepreneurial talent at the university,” said Hayes Ferguson, associate director of The Garage. “We are grateful for the opportunity to share the Fellowship’s extensive resources with five outstanding students who are eager to broaden their horizons and hone their skills.”
The Fellows, all scheduled to graduate in 2021, are:
Cohort #2 will soon become immersed in programming developed by Dan Willoughby ’15 MBA, an entrepreneur and former director of Techstars Chicago. Examples of LJV Fellowship activities, held at least monthly, include networking dinners, tickets to events such as TEDx Chicago, and workshops focused on personal and professional growth.
“Entrepreneurs often learn on the job through the experience of running their companies,” said Willoughby. “The Fellowship aims to cultivate the development of critical skills most professionals learn in their 20’s and 30’s by exposing them to deep expertise, mentorship and coaching in order to support their ability to assess and take the risks inherent in entrepreneurial endeavors.”
During their junior year, the cohort will travel to Los Angeles for a trip curated by Owen, an investor in emerging food and consumer businesses.
The first cohort’s LA trip, earlier this year, included a tour of SpaceX, lunch with Gwyneth Paltrow at her startup, Goop, and roundtable discussions with entrepreneurs from Owen’s network. During their senior year, Fellows will take an international trip.
“Monique and I are delighted to support entrepreneurship at the undergraduate level through the Little Joe Ventures Fellowship,” Owen said. “The caliber and diversity of the Fellows continues to amaze us, and we hope the curriculum as well as the camaraderie of the Fellowship provides the students a foundation to pursue a more entrepreneurial path at NU and beyond.”