Raleigh, N.C. – The entrepreneurial path carries with it all types of risk, and for recent graduates, the financial uncertainty is not always a risk worth taking. However, young entrepreneurs in Raleigh now have a new opportunity to follow their startup ambitions, thanks to a scholarship developed in partnership with the ThinkHouse and North Carolina State University’s Social Entrepreneurship Initiative. The Social Entrepreneurship Initiative recently announced that will sponsor two recent NC State alumni, Owen Jordan and Tia Simpson, to participate in the ThinkHouse, a living and learning accelerator program for young, aspiring entrepreneurs.
“We want to keep local talent here in our community. We saw the opportunity to support ThinkHouse fellows as a way to nurture graduates in a supportive community of young entrepreneurs,” says Elizabeth Benefield, the Social Entrepreneurship Coordinator at the Institute for Nonprofit Research, Education, and Engagement at NC State University.
The ThinkHouse, located in historic Boylan Heights, provides a space for eight young minds to not only connect with one another, but also with local and national resources that will help them launch new ventures.
“It is an environment where I can have my mind on my entrepreneurial future 100 percent of the time rather than working on another job detached from RESQD,” says Jordan, current ThinkHouse fellow. Jordan’s venture, RESQD, is a project that provides funding for educational opportunities for orphans by printing their own drawings on clothing. He describes his time at NC State as one that helped him develop as an entrepreneur and a leader, and adds, “It is an honor to be supported by my alma mater, and this scholarship both motivates me and helps me validate what I’m doing.”
“I am extremely grateful for the sponsorship. Without it, I would not have been able to accept the offer to live at the ThinkHouse,” says Tia Simpson, this year’s second sponsored Fellow. Simpson adds, “In my first few months at the ThinkHouse, I’ve learned a lot from my cohort, through the weekly programming, and through the connections I have been able to make with local entrepreneurs. It’s been invaluable to my venture, Konnectband.”
Konnectband Inc. is a mobile and wearable smartwatch app designed to assist students in emergency situations. Konnectband Inc. is scheduled for a beta launch by the end of the year, and Simpson’s team hopes to have an active app running by May of 2015.
Both Jordan and Simpson were involved with the Social Entrepreneurship Initiative at NC State during their undergraduate careers, where they began to develop the foundations for their businesses.
Benefield comments that both are “wonderful mentors and examples for upcoming NC State students who are discovering social entrepreneurship and work. The Social Entrepreneurship Initiative is excited to support them. We see them as great leaders coming out of NC State for the next generation of social entrepreneurs.”