Anonymous donor pledges $30M to Tech

Photo by Nikita Peker

The entrepreneurial programs at Tech provide students with an opportunity to test out their big ideas and have continued to grow every year since their conception. Programs like CREATE-X will grow even larger in the coming years due to a pledge for a $30 million donation from an anonymous donor.

This gift was pledged in the spring of 2017 and was recently announced by the Office of Development in Tech’s Philanthropy Quarterly publication. It is the second-largest donation of its kind in Tech’s history.

The donor has let little be known about himself, except that he is from Asia and is an entrepreneur.

“It is super exciting — what we’re gonna be able to do for students, what we’re gonna be able to do to ramp up entrepreneurship and more importantly how it’s gonna fit into the whole startup scene in Atlanta,” said Steve McLaughlin, the dean of the College of Engineering. “It will kind of create a whole new ecosystem that is in our case focused on students.”

According to the directive of the donor, the gift can be used for anything, as long as it promotes “programs, activities and initiatives designed to advance entrepreneurship in the student body of the Georgia Institute of Technology.”

Funds from the pledge will be distributed at the direction of the provost or a person that he or she designates.

The donor investigated programs like Tech’s Inventure Prize, TIG:ER and CREATE-X, which convinced him that the Institute was strategically moving forward in the area of student-led startups, according to Marta Garcia, the associate vice president for international development. After research into his options, CREATE-X is the one that caught his attention the most.

“He could see that his gift would be game-changing and well-stewarded in the long term,” Garcia said in the Philanthropy Quarterly announcement.

The CREATE-X program began in 2015 with only 8 teams, and due to the aid of donors has grown to 30 teams now.

According to McLaughlin, the donation will allow the program to increase participation to 100 student-led startups per year.

This is one step closer to the ten-year goal of getting every single student into one of the CREATE-X programs before they graduate in order to give everyone a taste of entrepreneurship, even if their startup does not continue beyond the first program.

CREATE-X began from similar feelings of generosity and philanthropy. Chris Klaus, who is a former Tech student, founder of internet security and gaming companies and namesake of the Klaus Advanced Computing building, was also interested.

He noticed the success of the first “Startup Summer” session, and gave a $2 million gift that helped the program become established. He also established a the fund that allocates $20,000 to each team in the “Launch” program, a fund that still exists.