University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Starting a business was the last thing on my mind when, as a UNC political science major, I interned at the U.S. Senate the summer after my sophomore year. Every day I'd hear Senators discuss hot topics such as stem cell research and global warming, but I learned that turning talk into reality was a frustratingly slow process. I then took an intro entrepreneurship course and realized I might be more suited to business ownership than politics. What appealed to me was that running a business means pursuing your own vision instead of working for someone else's.
The next semester I took professor Ted Zoller's commercial-ventures workshop, which requires students to develop a business idea. My idea addressed the need to speed up the transfer of technology from the lab to the marketplace.
Chemistry professors and MBA students told me they had trouble finding experts in their field to support their research, and that made it difficult for them to receive funding for their projects. It hit me that a networking site for academics could be a great resource. I developed Knowble (knowble.net), an online community where experts in all areas can communicate.
The UNC School of Medicine gave me $20,000 in funding. More than 30 universities worldwide now want to test the site. I may return to Washington someday, but if I do, I hope to see technology development moving a bit faster.