Promoting a cycle of generosity

September 10, 2014 By unc kenan-flagler

Thanks to the generosity of the John Adams family – John Adams Sr., John Adams Jr., Vicki Adams and JQ Adams (BSBA ’14) – more UNC Kenan-Flagler students will have the opportunity to harness their entrepreneurial aspirations and launch them into hyper-drive, supporting their transition to entrepreneurship over the course of their career.

John Adams Jr., Dean Doug Shackelford, John Adams Sr. and CES Director Ted Zoller

John Adams Jr., Dean Doug Shackelford, John Adams Sr. and CES Director Ted Zoller


















This year the family established the Adams Apprenticeship Program, designed to be the premier social capital network and entrepreneurship preparation program affiliated with a top 20 business school. The program will support UNC undergraduate and graduate students aspiring to become successful entrepreneurs. Its goals are to

  • substantially enhance the entrepreneurial social capital of UNC student entrepreneurs
  • increase their street credibility by pairing students with successful serial entrepreneurs — funders, founders and high-growth venture executives
  • achieve students’ entrepreneurial goals through mentorship by successful entrepreneurs
  • increase the velocity of students’ entrepreneurial success through meaningful interactions with UNC alumni and friends in the established entrepreneurial community
  • open opportunities for students to explore internships and career paths that will substantively increase their career success over the long-haul
  • cultivate key relationships among UNC alumni and friends who are founders, funders and high-growth executives and engage them in building the UNC Kenan-Flagler entrepreneurial network.

“We started the program to help establish a top-tier entrepreneurial program at one of the best business schools in the country – UNC Kenan-Flagler – to develop the next generation of business leaders,” says John Adams Jr., founder and managing partner of Legacy Capital Partners, LLC.  “This is the best way we know to pay it forward for the benefit of students as well as the University.  We are honored to collaborate with UNC Kenan-Flagler on a program that is so important to the Adams family and the John and Pat Adams Foundation.”

This program is critical because it will leverage one of the great truisms in entrepreneurship: successful entrepreneurs are naturally predisposed to give back,” says Ted Zoller, director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies and associate professor of strategy and entrepreneurship.

“Those who are successful generally remember and recognize those along their paths who opened doors, made early commitments and gave selflessly. The Adams Apprenticeship Program will incorporate this cycle of generosity in its design to offer a reciprocal value proposition representing a program of high value to all involved – students, participating entrepreneurs and UNC Kenan-Flagler.”

According to Laura Zavelson, entrepreneur in residence, “The program is for those who are passionate about joining the entrepreneurial eco-system – not just people who want to start companies, but founders, funders (angels, venture capitalists) and C-level executives of high-growth companies. It takes a broad skill set to launch and grow a new venture to sustainability and this program will give our students access to best-in-class knowledge at each stage.

“We are currently in the process of building our group of Adams Advisors, and student applications will open in late September,” adds Zavelson. “In our conversations with students and alumni, we’ve had an incredibly positive response and a lot of interest. One of the unique features of the program is that we’re not systematically matching mentors and students. We are creating opportunities for Adams Apprentices and Advisors to connect by setting up an environment that we believe will inspire serendipitous relationships.”

In conjunction with the Adams Apprenticeship Program, the family also recently created The Adams Entrepreneurial Pioneer Award.  Each year the program will celebrate new and graduating apprentices and their mentors with a gala dinner and invited keynote speaker – a model entrepreneurial leader who gives back through their insight, time, investments and philanthropy. This speaker will be recognized with the Carolina Entrepreneurial Pioneer Award.