SAN MATEO, CA--(Marketwired - Oct 12, 2016) - Wildcat Venture Partners, a venture capital firm committed to enabling early-stage startups to build high-growth businesses, today announced the winners of its first annual Scholarships in Entrepreneurship and Innovation: second-year Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) graduate students Apoorva Reddy Neelapu and Austin Webb. The $5,000 scholarships, awarded for the 2016-17 academic year, are given in partnership with CMU's Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship.
"We are honored to work with Carnegie Mellon in support of its budding entrepreneurs. The university's academic focus on artificial intelligence, machine learning, the Internet of Things and robotics aligns closely with the technologies we look for when investing in early-stage companies," said Bruce Cleveland, founding partner, Wildcat Venture Partners. "Our goal with the scholarship is to foster the next generation of entrepreneurs. We look forward to mentoring Apoorva and Austin on a regular basis and following their entrepreneurial careers upon graduation."
Apoorva Reddy Neelapu is enrolled in the Carnegie Mellon H. John Heinz III College, where she is pursuing a Master of Science degree in Public Policy and Management. Neelapu is the co-founder of Tip4Change, a marketplace that aims to leverage sustainable and ethical products. She also was founder of Eco-Veg in India. Neelapu is a James R. Swartz Entrepreneurial Fellow, a Campus Ambassador for the Graduate Entrepreneurship Club and the Founder of Social Innovation Club at Heinz College.
Austin Webb is pursuing his Master in Business Administration from the Carnegie Mellon Tepper School of Business. In addition to maintaining an almost perfect GPA in graduate school, Webb is the CEO and co-founder of RoBotany Ltd., which is leveraging automation and analytics to transform indoor vertical farming. In his role at RoBotany, Webb has demonstrated vision and the ability to develop technology, fundraise, manage customers and handle financial and legal concerns. RoBotany's patent-pending technology includes robots, sensors, actuators, and a robust IoT platform and database architecture.
"We are delighted to join with Wildcat Venture Partners in offering these scholarships to aspiring Carnegie Mellon entrepreneurs," said Dave Mawhinney, executive director of the Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship. "Wildcat has integrated itself in to the Carnegie Mellon startup ecosystem, both in Silicon Valley and Pittsburgh, and provides a number of great opportunities for our students, faculty and alumni to work with their team and portfolio companies. We are proud that Apoorva and Austin are the first recipients because they represent what is special about Carnegie Mellon."
Neelapu and Webb were presented their scholarships at a cocktail party at The Porch in Pittsburgh, attended by more than 50 graduate students, faculty, administration, entrepreneurs and CMU alumni. Among the guests were Eleanor Haglund, founder of E.E. Books; Ryan Green and Brian Finamore, founders of Gridwise; Jim Jen, executive director of AlphaLab at Innovation Works; Art Boni, distinguished career professor of Entrepreneurship; Kit Needham, entrepreneur-in-residence at Project Olympus; Ari Lightman, professor of Digital Media and Marketing at CMU; and Dave Mawhinney, executive director of the Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship.
To be eligible for the scholarship, recipients must
- have completed at least the first year of a Carnegie Mellon graduate program;
- be in good academic standing and demonstrate a passion for learning;
- show interest in pursuing an entrepreneurial path, such as membership in the Graduate Entrepreneurship Club (GEC), selection as a Swartz Fellow or having started their own venture; and
- have interests in Wildcat's thesis areas, such as IoT, marketplaces, digital health, EdTech, FinTech, marketing technology, enterprise and consumer.
About Wildcat Venture Partners
Wildcat Venture Partners is a Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm that invests in early-stage startups leveraging technologies such as: artificial intelligence, machine learning, the Internet of Things and robotics to address the following markets -- consumer, digital health, edtech, enterprise, fintech, marketing technology, and marketplaces. The Wildcat team brings decades of entrepreneurial and venture experience, combined with deep domain expertise to help companies traverse the Traction Gap. For more information, visit wildcat.vc.