Ryan Holmes, CEO of Vancouver-based social media dashboard startup HootSuite, has unveiled plans for a new program aimed at high achieving young adults aged 18-23. The Next Big Thing (TNBT) will select ten young innovators to receive a six month work experience at HootSuite, a grant and access to tons of influential peers.
Perhaps Holmes- the new venture capital wonderboy following early August’s $165 million series D financing for HootSuite- is taking a page from Peter Thiel’s book. In 2011 the former PayPal cofounder created the Peter Thiel Fellowship, which takes 20-25 students under the age of 20, gives them $100,000 and encourages them to work on a venture and postpone school.
While HootSuite likely won’t be shelling out that much cash to the youngsters, the idea seems to be similar: take a bunch of young people who believe that school is the only path available, and give them a push by surrounding them with a bit of money and mentorship.
“I’m thrilled to be in a position where we can provide a rising generation of innovators and game-changers with opportunities at a critical decision point in their lives,” said Holmes. “I’m looking forward to seeing what happens when we equip these talented young entrepreneurs with the tools I lacked early on in my own entrepreneurial journey: vision, money, and community. I’m betting some of them will change the world.”
The video features some interesting tid-bits of wisdom from Holmes from when he was a young entrepreneur, along with some music and uplifting quotes from various people:
TNBT was co-created by entrepreneur and philanthropist Meredith Powell, and seeks to “empower the next generation of leaders, helping them grow, learn, and re-imagine” what it means to succeed.
“Curiosity is the engine of achievement. We’re looking for independent thinkers with cool, disruptive ideas who aren’t afraid to take their shot,” said Powell. “I want applicants to know that with us at ‘The Next Big Thing’, there’s no such thing as failure. We’re passionate about championing young entrepreneurs from all backgrounds, regardless of their GPA.”
The six-month work experience will represent “hands-on personalized learning,” in a fast paced, entrepreneur-led environment. Participants will be supported by resources at HootSuite and the Emily Carr University of Art & Design, which will provide access to design expertise and cutting edge prototyping tools such as 3D printing through their research labs.
The grant will be no strings attached while the selected ten will also receive exclusive access to mentors and peers, including TED talkers, Dragons’ Den-ers, and founders who’ve had big exits.
Chris Bolton, a 16-year-old National Youth Ambassador worked with TNBT in its development, and said “you don’t need a university degree before you can do something incredible.” At just 14 Bolton taught himself to code by watching YouTube videos.
Those looking to apply can visit www.WeAreTNBT.com for more information. The application deadline is December 15, 2013.