It is part-startup accelerator - they're matched with mentors and attend weekly workshops - part-living community. The entrepreneurs accepted into the program live and work together in a house in Raleigh's Boylan Heights over an intense nine-month period of business learning and building. It's a model founders Christopher Gergen and Jason Widen hope to take to cities around the world in coming years.
One of the biggest opportunities it affords, said men from the first group, was the camaraderie and peer-to-peer interactions as they built businesses.
That's likely why Gergen and Widen had no problem recruiting for year two. Today, they announce a second set of fellows to begin their journey on August 1. It also accomplishes a key goal set as the first group came to a close: to incorporate a mix of different skill sets and support more women in entrepreneurship.
I actually met one of the new fellows a month ago at Maker Faire Raleigh. Tia Simpson recently graduated from North Carolina State University with a major in electrical engineering and minor in design studies, and created Konnect in her entrepreneurial senior design class.
Konnect is a bracelet that can alert authorities and emergency contacts with the push of a button in times of distress. It sends alerts through Bluetooth technology and its own app.
Simpson is looking forward to the help of mentors during the coming months, especially as she redesigns her original prototype. She says ThinkHouse will help her network and hopefully launch a successful Kickstarter campaign after the redesign. She plans to tap its legal advisor for help forging partnerships with universities.
Jesse Rodar (pictured above) is a creative who needs help from ThikHouse building a business around his line of fashionable handbags. The fashion textile management graduate from NC State was inspired after a summer 2013 internship in NYC designing luxury handbags as part of the Michael Kors "Collection Accessory" design team.
Why Spain you ask? Because according to Rodar, "everybody who's somebody in the leather goods industry manufactures there (Gucci and Prada to name a few)."
Nine months from now, Rodar says he thinks ThinkHouse will have helped him establish his brand.
Six others with equally ambitious goals will join Simpson and Rodar in ThinkHouse this fall. Here are brief descriptions of the men and women but stay tuned for full profiles from ExitEvent in coming weeks:
Michael Hoy, MusicBox
At 26-years-old, Hoy, a 2011 University of Maryland University College graduate, has created a venture with over 7,000 users in just three months. Music Box sends users emails with free music based on their favorite genres. It has been featured on Hypebot.com and LifeHacker.com.
Sophia Hyder, Evolvemint
Hyder graduated from the University of Virginia and then received a master's in international development policy from Duke University. She's using her degree to work with Bangladeshi women to produce a line of high-end scarves she hopes may someday make the pages of Vogue. While at ThinkHouse, she hopes to expand her socially-conscious manufacturing process to other countries.
Fabio Berger, Alex Browne & Soroush Jamali Pour, SF Robotics
These three recent Duke University grads started this venture, right now just a prototype of a humanoid robotic arm that can solve major software problems in an efficient and inexpensive way.
Nicholas Cioffi, Bulletin Mobile
Nicholas Cioffi has answered college students' prayers. His company, Innovatech Holdings, created this platform to send push notification alerts to students as soon as professors post something about class assignments. Notifications being lost in the email are a thing of the past. Bulletin Mobile will launch at NC State this fall.
Jeremy Wall, E-MVMT
Night cyclists and pedestrians will be excited to hear about Wall's invention. The recent NC State grad has created a sleek, low-light performance apparel line that uses electroluminescent wiring and reflectors to keep you safe at night.
Owen Jordan, RESQD
Jordan has a major passion is to help people. The recent NC State grad created RESQD to provide educational opportunities to orphans, and funds it by selling the orphans' artwork. In just 10 recent days, Jordan raised $1,500 for the Agape Exchange School in Bungoma, Kenya.
Stay tuned for ExitEvent's coverage of the ThinkHouse class over the next nine months.