The NYU Stern Venture Fellows program will provide each student with a $10,000 stipend, a prototyping fee, workspace and an immersion in San Francisco’s Bay Area, with access to venture capitalists, tech companies, mentors and Stern alumni.
The program is made possible through a $1 million donation from Stern alumnus David Ko, the former COO of Zynga, the Nasdaq-listed games maker and his wife, Jennifer.
“My goal is to provide aspiring entrepreneurs with early, first-hand access to leaders in the Silicon Valley and Silicon Alley tech communities and help them get a jumpstart,” he said, referring to NYC’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.
The announcement comes as business schools strive to cater to a millennial generation with its sights increasingly set on risky entrepreneurial ventures rather than cushy corporate jobs.
In January, Harvard Business School launched a start-up studio in NYC to support students’ entrepreneurial ventures long after graduation.
While only 1% of Stern’s 395 MBAs founded companies last year, it is generally accepted that MBAs are eyeing entrepreneurship. The data can be misleading; many MBAs hedge their start-up bets by launching companies on the side of full-time employment. Also, the data cover only the first three months of graduation — but many MBAs launch a few years later, after their debt is paid off.
Stern has produced at least four “unicorns”— companies valued at or above $1 billion — including Illumio, a Silicon Valley cyber security start-up that is backed by Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff. Between 2010 and 2015, 120 Stern entrepreneurs founded 117 companies that collectively raised $1.5 billion, according to data from PitchBook.
Peter Henry, dean of Stern, said: “The NYU Stern Venture Fellows Program is an extraordinary opportunity for MBA students who come to Stern to set their entrepreneurial ambitions and dreams in motion.”
Fellows will continue to receive mentorship support in their second year of the MBA degree, and can opt to earn course credit through an independent study focused on their start up.
Incoming full-time MBA students will apply in Fall 2016. The program will commence in Summer 2017.