UNC is committed to developing students into transformative entrepreneurial leaders.

Our Mission

The Adams Apprenticeship is a life-long network of students and successful UNC alumni that exists to shape, support, and speed the transition to entrepreneurial careers with successful outcomes.  The program matches highly qualified, successful professionals with high-achieving students, and facilitates productive and mutually beneficial long-term relationships.

The Adams Apprenticeship experience begins with the selection of diverse, entrepreneurially-minded students from across the UNC campus who demonstrate extraordinary potential.  The program provides these young leaders with the resources needed to build successful entrepreneurial careers:

  • Life-long access to one of the top entrepreneur networks in the world

  • Enrollment in the "Entrepreneurs Lab" course and six co-curricular sessions

  • Networking events across the year to build meaningful relationships

  • Customized leadership development plan

  • The creation of a personal board of advisors

During this journey, Adams Apprentices learn to create change and turn their ideas into action.  At the end of the year, students will graduate to the alumni network, and begin paying it forward.   

Our goal is to build a network that creates the “big breaks” in an entrepreneur’s life. These events fundamentally alter the trajectory of careers and the impact entrepreneurs can make in the world.
— Ted Zoller, Director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies


The Adams Apprenticeship program will grow into the most robust and impactful alumni network in the world for entrepreneurs.

Each year, 20-30 new high potential students - undergrad juniors and graduate school first years - will be selected from across UNC after an extensive interview process.  In addition, 30-50 proven entrepreneurial leaders will be recruited as new advisors.  With new students and alums entering the program each year, the network is poised to become a game-changing program for UNC and our alumni network.

OUR Purpose: Creating Big Breaks

The trajectories of remarkable careers are NOT slow and steady.  Rather, they are marked by BIG BREAKS - career experiences that lead to unusually rapid gains.  The Adams Apprenticeship seeks to create these big breaks.

A closer look at the careers of five of the most famous entrepreneurs reveals a non-linear career trajectory and a pattern of big breaks.

Key facts about the program

The Adams Apprenticeship, through the life-long network, classroom activities and individual guidance, aims to speed the transition to successful entrepreneurial careers for UNC's highest potential students. 

  • Five student & alumni networking events

  • Six co-curricular sessions including topics such as "Building Your Personal Leadership Plan"

  • Spring Semester Entrepreneur's Lab taught by Ted Zoller

  • By the end of the Apprenticeship, students are expected to have completed a Personal Leadership Plan and built a Board of Advisors

  • 86 high-potential entrepreneurial students in first three years of the program

  • 230+ alumni founders, funders, and growth executives

  • Operated by the Entrepreneurship Center and funded by the John and Patricia Adams Foundation

  • Key contacts: Vickie Gibbs, Callie Brauel and Scott Brown

  • 2015 was the inaugural year of the program

About the UNC Kenan-Flagler Entrepreneurship Center

The Entrepreneurship Center at UNC Kenan-Flagler delivers the most comprehensive, hands-on and enduring entrepreneurial education anywhere through our unique Learn, Launch, Lead (L3) framework.


“Learn” describes the entrepreneurial courses offered in the most sought-after MBA concentration at Kenan-Flagler. Our curriculum, clubs and competitions help students develop a foundation in entrepreneurship as founders, funders and growth executives.

“Launch” encompasses the full-stack venture development ecosystem from idea generation and problem solving at BLUE Innovation Community to acceleration at our global award-winning Launch Chapel Hill.

“Lead” embodies the leadership characteristics of the students and hundreds of entrepreneurial mentors in our national network, primarily in our one-of-a-kind Adams Apprenticeship program.