This isn’t your normal scholarship.
The four winners of the 2015 Peter Thiel Fellowship will put their formal education on hold and receive cheques for $100,000 to kick-start their technology-oriented business ventures.
They are among a group of 20 winners in the program, all of whom are promising budding entrepreneurs. In addition to the hefty cheques, the students will receive two years of mentorship to take their businesses to the next level.
The program isn’t designed to shun the idea of learning, but is rather an extension of a formal education – and no, it’s not for everyone. Its founder is German-born billionaire Peter Thiel, who helped co-found PayPal (no big deal), along with other tech ventures.
“College can be good for learning about what’s been done before, but it can also discourage young people from doing something new, especially when it leaves them in debt,” Thiel said in a statement.” Each of the fellows charts a unique course, but together they have proven that young people can succeed by thinking for themselves instead of competing on old career tracks.
Of course, the choice to drop our of school and pursue such a goal only makes sense if you have a great, forward-thinking idea and a strong commitment to developing your venture. If you’re among the typical set of 20-year-olds who have no idea what to do themselves professionally, you probably want to ride out that degree.
As for the Canadian winners, they’re from Ontario and Quebec and range in age between 18 and 22. They’ve all launched companies with a strong emphasis on up-and-coming technology.
So what are these bright ideas anyway (and why haven’t we thought of them)?
Toronto’s Cathy Tie has co-founded a startup that’s dedicated to improve genetic testing; Montreal’s Simon Tian’s company designs wearable technology that helps people perform daily tasks anywhere; Waterloo’s Harry Gandhi is developing contact lenses with the ability to monitor glucose levels in diabetics; and Cambridge’s Liam Horne is the co-founder of a software company that helps retailers determine where to set up shop by analyzing sources of demographic statistics, traffic patterns, and spending habits.
We have a feeling this isn’t the last we’ll hear of the young entrepreneurs.