Dreamers Who Do: Innovate Carolina program sends student entrepreneurs to Europe

As Carolina students quickly learn after setting foot on campus in Chapel Hill, entrepreneurship isn’t just something you learn about in class. It’s something that you go and do. With scholarship support from the Innovate Carolina Dreamers-Who-Do Program and the UNC Campus Y, more students had the opportunity to explore entrepreneurship not only outside of Chapel Hill, but outside the country.

“I grew as an individual, as an entrepreneur and as a citizen.”

— Diamonde Henderson

In the summer of 2017, a team of UNC students were granted the chance to explore leadership, innovation, communities and social capital as they traveled throughout the European world. During this two-week trip, students visited Prague, Vienna and Dresden, while gaining exclusive access to Impact HUBs and innovation centers in these diverse cities. The cities were chosen due to their rich histories, cultural climates and vibrant entrepreneurial settings. By the conclusion of the trip, these students were able to answer the following questions:

“Participating in the Impact HUB Crawl was the most impactful experiences of my life up to this point,” said Diamonde Henderson, a business major in the Class of 2019. “I grew as an individual, as an entrepreneur and as a citizen. Before journeying to Eastern Europe, I’d been neglecting promises to myself to effect change. … [but while at] Impact HUB Prague mapping out my passions and my method of execution, I experienced my moment of obligation.”

Henderson has since started an e-commerce business with one of the group members and is allocating a portion of the profits to the Keloid Research Foundation, which fosters scientific research in keloid, a genetic skin disorder, and promotes education, advocacy and service to those who suffer from it.

Johnathan Robertson and his wife, Shannon, supported Innovate Carolina’s launch of the Dreamers-Who-Do program, which enables Carolina students to hone their skills in innovation and entrepreneurship and make an immediate social and economic impact in communities around the state of North Carolina and world.

Johnathan, president and managing director of TG Capital, a Miami-based venture capital firm, earned his undergraduate degree at Carolina and went on to Harvard. He played football at UNC and was named to the USA Today All-Academic Team. During Johnathan’s senior year, he was awarded the Luce and Truman scholarships and was North Carolina’s Rhodes Scholar selection.

“Innovation demands that you take risks, put your ideas out there and be willing to fail,” Robertson said. “Shannon and I wanted to support Innovate Carolina’s efforts to provide students with meaningful, innovation-related experiences and resources, which encourage persistence through the roadblocks they will encounter.

“Motivating experiences and supportive resources all help to keep student entrepreneurs sanguine and focused on their long-term goals. Shannon and I are honored to be associated with the Dreamers-Who-Do Program and its student entrepreneurs.”