Little Joe Ventures Fellowship

Launched in 2018 by Tony Owen ’97, ’03 MBA, and his wife, Monique, the Little Joe Ventures Fellowship in Entrepreneurship provides an unparalleled experience to students with a demonstrated interest in and commitment to building new ideas.

Each year, Northwestern faculty and staff committees nominate and select students who have shown exceptional promise as entrepreneurs. Five sophomores are chosen each winter quarter after a rigorous interview process. Each cohort is announced at the beginning of the spring quarter.

Fellows selected to participate in the highly competitive program receive financial awards, mentors and transformational experiences, including international travel. Additionally, the Fellows gain access to the donor’s and university’s extensive networks.

Take a Look

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During junior year, Fellows travel to Los Angeles to explore startups and meet inspiring alumni and innovative leaders. They attend special events throughout the year like TEDxChicago. Fellows also receive 1-on-1 mentorship and/or executive coaching.

During senior year, each Fellow delivers a Senior Talk and workshop for the other Fellows on a topic that is personal and unique to their entrepreneurial journey. Topics have ranged from Designing Your Life to Building Community Cultures. During spring break of senior year, the Fellows travel internationally on an Emerging Leaders’ Expedition. This experience is thoughtfully designed to make them more purpose-driven, self-aware leaders.

Fellows receive a $5,000 award for an entrepreneurial project or internship. Fellows have used the funding to purchase inventory for their startup; to cover living expenses during an unpaid summer internship; and to travel to TechCrunch Disrupt SF and other conferences.

The Benefits

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Selected Residents get 24/7 access to The Garage, a dedicated desk, and access to reservable meeting rooms.

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Workshops and mentorship focused on personal and professional growth.

Travel & Award

All expenses paid, domestic and international trips - plus, a $5,000 award for an entrepreneurial project or internship.

Program Fellows

Check out the current cohort below!

Trevor Abbott, McCormick ‘26

From education, to space tech, to haptics for VR, entrepreneurship is a path in which Trevor can fully and freely accomplish his goals of mastering education for others and breaking down the barriers of space exploration. Trevor started his first venture in high school, Blues Guitar Tutoring, where he found enjoyment in crafting his own solutions to issues important to him. Upon entering Northwestern as an aerospace engineer, he helped lead the NASA AutonomousCasting RovEr (ACRE) Team and transform it into an entrepreneurial venture. Additionally, as the team lead of a new endeavor, Metallic Expandable Technology for Artemis Lunar Structures (METALS), he has won hundreds of thousands of dollars in NASA funding. Currently, as the CTO and co-founder of HaptE, he is spearheading the development of the next generation of advanced haptic gloves for communication. These projects will allow Trevor to fulfill his dream of changing the world through technology, especially in space.

"Through its mentorship, community, and opportunities, LJV will be a stepping stone that will help launch my ideas from mind to matter."

Colleen Charchut, Weinberg ‘26

Born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, Colleen has been a diehard Northwestern fan all her life. Colleen is a sophomore pursuing an Economics major and an Entrepreneurship minor. Her entrepreneurial journey began in high school when she started upcycling hats and selling them on secondhand marketplaces. It was through this first venture that Colleen fell in love with creating products that bring people joy. At Northwestern, her entrepreneurial spirit has endured. Colleen co-founded ReWear, an online resource that facilitates students’ buying, selling, lending, and borrowing of clothing and accessories with one another. Besides sustainable fashion, Colleen is also passionate about the creative marketing work she has done for various food and beverage brands. In her free time, Colleen enjoys training for her next marathon and producing content for Northwestern’s fashion magazine.

"The LJV Fellowship offers unparalleled resources and, crucially, the unique opportunity to build long-lasting relationships with fellow student entrepreneurs and mentors who are all eager to provide support and
guidance throughout my ventures."

Terry Chen, Weinberg ‘26

Terry is a sophomore from Beijing and Toronto studying Computer Science, Entrepreneurship and Design. He views technology as a tool for solving human problems and aspires to create products people love. Terry has worked on LLM reasoning systems and multi-modal AI copilots, which he believes will be integral to future human-ai workflows. Despite his passion for innovative technology, Terry believes that empathy, caring, and creativity, elements of human-human interactions, will always transcend mere calculation. At the Garage, Terry is leveraging his global upbringing to propel forward his startup, Cogno, with a mission to make global brands accessible to customers anywhere and to facilitate a shopping experience that feels local despite geographic distances.

"Joining Little Joe Ventures with student entrepreneurs who share diverse backgrounds will allow me to
expand my perspective and explore the human aspects of technology innovation to make sure that no
one is left behind in the next wave of ai advancement."

Victoria Israel, McCormick ‘26

Victoria dreams of leaving an everlasting impact on the world through entrepreneurship and innovation. Originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina, she is a sophomore majoring in Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in robotics, and planning to pursue a Master in Biomedical Engineering with a leadership certificate. In high school, she founded STEMOA, an international non-profit organization that provided free scientific resources to low-income students. She also authored a children's biology book and fundraised 40,000 ARG pesos to donate it through her organization. These initiatives, which spanned five countries, leveraged a global team and garnered acclaim from organizations affiliated with IEEE and UNICEF. At Northwestern, she co-founded HaptE, a startup building a new generation of haptic gloves aiming to revolutionize the world of communication.

"LJV represents a life-changing opportunity for my entrepreneurial path, providing me with a family of
fellow student entrepreneurs who are developing ideas that hold the potential to reshape the world."

Gillian Nieh, McCormick ‘26

Gilli is a second-year in McCormick studying Computer Science, Cognitive Science, and Human-Computer Interaction. At Northwestern, Gilli serves as a Design Co-Head for Spoon Northwestern's print magazine and is a member of Kappa Theta Pi. Currently, she is spearheading the design of an app, Billed, which aims to simplify the bill-splitting process through an intuitive, streamlined interface. Raised in the Bay Area, she became an innovator early in life, always thinking of how her interactions with products could be improved. Gilli's love of design stemmed from her personal interactions with products throughout her life and her direct involvement in design projects. She has come to understand the pivotal role of design in shaping even the most minute interactions with technology. Gilli aspires to build a career in design to create accessible experiences that resonate with users.

"I am thrilled to be part of the LJV cohort to broaden my perspective in the world of entrepreneurship and
learn from the inspiring people around me!"


Take a Look Under the Hood

"Becoming an LJV Fellow has changed my path at Northwestern entirely. It has provided me with such an inspiring community within The Garage as well as incredible opportunities that I never would have had access to if it weren’t for the Owens’ generosity. Since being selected, I have been launched into the real world of entrepreneurship with full force, meeting some of the most influential people and gaining valuable learning experiences that have helped shape my future as a founder and beyond.”

Lilliana Robinson

McCormick '21

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