New Mexico State University’s Arrowhead Center will be the academic lead for the Sandbox Ventures’ 2020 Fourth Industrial Revolution Economy (FIRE) Venture Fellowship, a competitive program focused on training select Borderplex university students in venture capital for the benefit of the regional startup ecosystem.
“We are launching a fellowship focused on harnessing the intellectual progress of emerging professionals and unleashing their talents on today’s challenges,” said Beto Pallares, the NMSU Bill and Sharon Sheriff Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurship and FIRE cohort instructor.
“The world has entered a fourth industrial revolution economy driven by emerging technologies that are radically changing societies,” he said. “Our region will be better positioned to face future economic and industrial innovation if we grow a talent base that is cognizant of cyber-physical systems that can change how we live, work, and do business in the future.”
Arrowhead Center, the entrepreneurship and technology commercialization arm of NMSU, will aid fellows as the academic lead by offering opportunities to engage with enterprise advisers, startups and programs like Sprint business accelerators and the Arrowhead Innovation Fund. Sandbox Ventures, an El Paso innovation community, focuses on offering the resources and inspiration necessary to put big ideas into action. FIRE Venture Fellows will undertake a one-year training and apprenticeship and will learn about investment, venture capital and startup entrepreneurship.
Designed for undergraduate and graduate students, the fellowship prompts participants to put this learning to practice by drafting investment memos on real companies, creating their own investment theses and working within their desired industrial sectors. All of this will be supplemented through curated internships with partner firms outside of the Borderplex ecosystem.
“Arrowhead seeks to stimulate innovation and business opportunities that improve the region’s economy. We proudly support this initiative, and this first cohort of fellows, as they tap into their strengths, which can work in favor for our entire region,” said Kathryn Hansen, director of Arrowhead Center. She continued, “The curriculum is intense and is based on over a decade of investing and start-up mentorship, as well as teaching venture capital fundamentals like deal flow sourcing, deal review and diligence, terms and conditions for investment, and board service and governance.”
The FIRE Venture Fellow will also be working with guidance from HBCUvc, a nonprofit organization that trains students attending historically black colleges and universities and Hispanic-serving institutions, and Paul Thallner, founder and CEO of High Peaks Group, who will work one-on-one with the fellows.
The fellowship started June 1 with seven fellows in the inaugural cohort: five from the University of Texas at El Paso, one from NMSU and one from the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education in Chihuahua, Mexico.
“Having the opportunity of being part of FIRE Venture Fellowship is indescribable. I feel honored and humbled to be a part of this program. I am extremely motivated and intrigued to see what it has to offer,” said Carlos Cuesta, second year NMSU MBA student and FIRE Venture Fellow. “Most universities prepare their curriculum around publicly traded companies. FIRE Ventures displays business from a different standpoint, the perspective of the entrepreneur, the private sector, start-ups and venture capital investors. It is time to put the theory into practice, and what better way of doing this than through the mentorship of experienced professionals.”