By Danielle Strachman (Program Director, Thiel Fellowship: 20 Under 20)
At the Thiel Foundation, we’re inspired by the difference that our Fellows want to make in the world. I am personally humbled by their projects and look forward to hearing about their latest innovations, hopes, and milestones while they travel down this new path.

Before accepting this opportunity, many Fellows were tracked to pursue their studies in universities and colleges. But now with the help of the Fellowship, they’re charting an independent course determined not by class credit or stale major requirements but by their ability to bring forth a vision on their own and carry it through.

During their two-year tenure, each Fellow will receive $100,000 from the Thiel Foundation as well as mentorship from the Foundation’s network of tech entrepreneurs and innovators. The project areas for this class of fellows include biotech, career development, economics and finance, education, energy, information technology, mobility, robotics, and space.

Call for Mentors

Mentors are accomplished innovators and entrepreneurs who are bringing great things to life. They’re inspired to join the Thiel Fellowship and help change the world by lending their expertise and insights to exciting avenues beyond their immediate ventures. Our mentors come from a wide background and legacy — some being new to entrepreneurship and others veterans of their field. We’re especially looking for CEOs, founders, CTOs, CIOs, investors, research scientists, enthusiastic technologists, and hardware specialists.

For fellows who are already building their own startup, we’d like mentors to meet with them at least once a month (or more if desired) to guide them and share wisdom. Some fellows greatly benefit from interning at a startup or non-profit first as they prepare to develop their project, in which case mentors and their colleagues work more closely with the fellows on a day to day basis.

Mentoring and intern placements are made on a mutually agreed upon request by both mentor and fellow to work with one another. The Foundation also checks in quarterly with both mentors and fellows to ensure that the relationships are mutually beneficial and productive. We’re coming up on our first set of quarterly reviews and it’s wonderful to see the bonds that our mentors and fellows have with one another, not just personally, but in how vested they are in their projects and bringing breakthroughs to our world.

Recently I asked an entrepreneur about why he wanted to become a mentor with our program, he stated:

“I wish someone helped me channel all the erratic energy that comes with youth in combination with a great idea. Reality isn’t always as enthusiastic. But there are ways to get the results you want. If I can depart a bit of the “how” that would be enough of a reward for me.”

“I often learn lessons better when I try to teach them to others. I’m three years into building start-ups as a founder and 13 years in building start-ups for others. I enjoy working on both my own and other peoples’ ideas.

“I tend to ask the weird and strange questions that poke at the root of an issue.”

“I’m getting to a point in life where I care for other peoples success and social impact equal or more than my own.”

“I respect the people involved.”

I hope you will join us in this endeavor, and help shape the next generation of tech visionaries.

To get started, please send an email to me at dstrachman at thielfoundation dot org. I look forward to hearing from you.

Photo credit: Ben Werdmuller von Elgg
Editor’s note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below.
About the guest blogger: Danielle Strachman is the Program Director for the Thiel Fellowship‘s 20 Under 20. She is passionate about disrupting education. After graduating from college, she decided to go the entrepreneurial route instead of enrolling in a PhD program for neuropsychology. Danielle moved to California where she started Heightened Learning, an educational consulting business serving the homeschooling community. Her passionate and driven students inspired her to cofound Innovations Academy, a charter school in San Diego.