How AVG’s 10KE Program Is Supporting the Next Generation of Young Entrepreneurs
January 26, 2021 | Scott Murphy
Alumni Ventures Group believes in igniting and nurturing the entrepreneurial spirit in younger generations. We want to produce an ecosystem of builders, makers, and creators with the potential to help the world take its next great leap forward. Dynamic entrepreneurs uncover new markets hiding in plain sight and disrupt old markets we’ve come to take for granted.
In that spirit, AVG launched 10K Entrepreneurs, or 10KE, in 2019 as a nonprofit dedicated to exceptional entrepreneurial candidates from colleges and universities across the country. The program’s mission is to help cultivate the next generation of game-changers as they gain startup work experience or jump on the next big idea.
“We have a responsibility to invest in the ambitions of the next generation,” said Michael Collins, CEO of Alumni Ventures Group (AVG), one of the most active venture funds in the world. “We all benefit from the output of their intellectual curiosity, whether it is to create the next Google or innovate business in emerging markets.”
The 10KE Internship Grant initiative gives stipends to undergraduate college students for summer internships at fast-growing startups or to finance their own companies. In its first year, 10KE awarded 20 grants to students from coast to coast. In 2021, 10KE plans to award 50 scholarships of $1,000 for each individual.
Program Director Keiran Simunovic said 10KE hopes to encourage Gen Z to consider becoming entrepreneurs rather than take the typical career path after college. “We really do need more changers and movers, people who will take the big swings and hopefully make a dent in the world one day,” he added. In particular, 10KE gives special attention to providing opportunities to underrepresented groups, with at least 50 percent of the awards set aside for these applicants.
Here are some of the program’s previous scholarship recipients. Many of 10KE’s past founders were featured on episodes of our Founders & Funders podcast.
The 10KE grant supported Princeton University alum Michael Polk in his role as the head of strategic planning at DraftHedge, a marketplace where sports fans can buy and sell their favorite athletes and teams. He communicates the company’s vision, forges strategic relationships, and develops and implements corporate strategy.
Julian Davis of Georgetown University founded Simbeos to provide a sustainable alternative to single-use plastics such as grocery bags and drinking straws. An avid surfer, he would regularly pick up plastic waste from the beach and realized that most came from the restaurant industry. The 10KE program helped Julian in his endeavor to create high-quality, biodegradable alternatives to protect the marine ecosystem.
The 10KE program supports Bronwen Pelish, a graduate student at The George Washington University, in her current internship at Early Intervention Systems where she drafts and edits sections of COVID-19 grant applications for the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health. She also researches and analyzes the global health care market in the areas of predictive analytics, wearable technologies, and workplace violence.
Madison Rifkin is a graduate of Northeastern University and the founder and CEO of Mount Locks. The 10KE grant provides additional assistance to her as she runs a company that offers smart locks to micromobility vehicles such as scooters as well as other modes of transportation. The company also offers an analytics platform to track and manage fleets.
Joseph Arrington | Co-Founder and CEO, Beacon Sleep Solutions
Joseph Arrington, a University of Utah alum, struggled with sleep disorders ranging from sleep terrors to sleep walking. He decided to create Beacon, which uses technology to help people manage these disorders. The 10KE program supported Joseph in his endeavors: Beacon is developing an app and a special smart watch that can monitor biorhythms during sleep.
Apply to the 10KE Program Before March 15, 2021
If you are a great fit for the 10KE program or know someone who could benefit from it, get more information at 10kentrepreneurs.org. Applications will be accepted through this site, with decisions made by mid-April.