Each year, NC State Entrepreneurship selects a new cohort of Miller Fellows, a program that supports newly graduated entrepreneurs who wish to pursue their venture full-time after graduation. The six May graduates selected represent 4 university colleges and five unique startups. For these students, the next six months will be a challenging, but rewarding journey as they continue to add critical entrepreneurial skills to their toolkits, such as leadership, communication and networking. Jennifer Capps, Director of Student Learning and Faculty Development at NC State Entrepreneurship, remarks “This is such an exciting group of entrepreneurs to work with. Their work ethic, passion and commitment are absolutely inspiring. We’re proud to support them as they put Think and Do into action and tackle such a diverse group of problems.”
Amidst the current COVID-19 pandemic and uncertainty surrounding us, following an entrepreneurial heart can be scarier than ever. Programs like the Miller Fellowship are crucial in supporting entrepreneurial-minded students to bridge the gap directly following graduation when students are often faced with the choice of taking a job or focusing on their startup venture full-time. “Deciding to go full time on my startup was much easier knowing I’ll have the full support of NC State behind me,” said Jeyashree Haridoss, one of the 2020 Fellows.
About the Miller Fellowship
The Dr. Thomas Kenan Miller II Fellows Program was started in 2014 when Dr. Tom Miller, senior vice provost for academic outreach and entrepreneurship, recognized a need to provide “rent and ramen” to NC State graduates who wanted to pursue working on their entrepreneurial ventures full-time after graduation. Dr. Miller developed the program, originally named the Entrepreneurship Initiative Fellows program, to meet that need, offering a monthly stipend to students who chose to forego traditional career paths in pursuit of their ventures. Years later, in 2017, a generous group of former students came together to endow the program, renaming it in honor of Dr. Miller.
Today, benefits of the program include access to mentors and industry professionals, continued access to the Entrepreneurship Garage and a $750 monthly stipend intended to cover basic needs like food and housing. Fellows also benefit from access to workshops and networking facilitated through monthly skills-building meet-ups. The Miller Fellows program runs from June through November. Applications for the 2021 cohort will open up March, 2021.
Meet the 2020 Miller Fellows
Justin Babich graduated with an Industrial Engineering degree from the College of Engineering. In high school, he ran his own business called GCS Gaming Customs, where he created and sold custom GameCube controllers. His experiences include supply chain operations at a biomedical company and teaching warehouse management slotting software. He is the co-founder of Proteios, a company aimed to stir up the sports supplement industry with the Proteios Optimal – a protein shake machine similar to a Coca Cola freestyle machine that dispenses protein shakes at the gym. Justin is an avid supplement shake drinker and enjoys lifting, climbing, and backpacking.
While able to step away from his Industrial Engineering studies at NC State, Johnny has focused on pursuing multiple start-ups in recent years. Wanting to combine his interests in climbing and engineering, Johnny helped co-found Acorn Climbing in 2017. With the help of the Entrepreneurship Garage, he sustainably designed, prototyped, and manufactured a hangboard that would serve as the backbone to the company. In addition to running Acorn, Johnny has begun work with Stellar Farms, a concept to help lower the amount of resources current agriculture consumes.
Pridhvi Gadiraju graduated from the College of Sciences with a degree in Biological Sciences with a concentration in Physiology/Neurobiology, and minors in Spanish and Business Administration. In his time at NC State, Pridhvi was involved in the entrepreneurship community by participating in Make-A-Thon and was a Social Innovation Fellow. He is currently the founder of EcoDentSol – a company dedicated to bringing sustainable materials and innovative solutions to the healthcare industry. More specifically, he is developing a machine to assist orthodontists reduce microplastic waste, lowering operating costs and eliminating unnecessary labor.
Griffin graduated with degrees in Computer and Electrical Engineering. He began his entrepreneurial journey at NC State by presenting at Entrepalooza and continued it by participating in the Engineering Entrepreneurs Program. He has experience in developing video games, which honed his eye for design and crafting a pleasant user experience. By fusing his passions for health, user experience, and entrepreneurship he co-founded Proteios, a custom protein shake machine company that educates users on the wide world of supplements.
Jeyashree graduated with a B.S in Business Administration with a concentration in Entrepreneurship from the Poole College of Management and a minor in Spanish. Her love for languages and cultures led her to study abroad for two semesters in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Madrid, Spain. These experiences and growing up in a Tamil speaking family gave her insight into how culture impacts communication. This led her to create Sol, an app that instantly connects people in new places with interpreters.
Nakyrah graduated from NC State’s College of Design with a degree in Design Studies and a Business Entrepreneurship minor. While at NC State, Nakyrah grew a passion for entrepreneurship through her continued exploration of the arts. With influences from both her minor and NC State’s community of entrepreneurs her startup, Kyrah’s Kustoms, was created during her senior year. Nakyrah will continue establishing her operation and advertising strategies while becoming a stronger leader during her time as a Miller Fellow.
This post was originally published in Entrepreneurship News.