UNC Kenan-Flagler Student Chi Nwogu Wins First CommonBond Startup Fellowship

Nwogu Receives $5,000 to Develop Social Venture

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – May 11, 2017 – The University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital (EVC) Club and CommonBond, a financial technology company that helps students and graduates pay for higher education, are thrilled to announce the recipient of the inaugural CommonBond Startup Fellowship: Chi Nwogu, a first-year MBA student with a true passion for social entrepreneurship. The CommonBond Startup Fellowship represents a new partnership between CommonBond and the business school’s EVC Club, which have a shared vision of helping students pursue their entrepreneurial aspirations.     

Nwogu was named the $5,000 award recipient from a talented and entrepreneurially driven pool of UNC Kenan-Flagler applicants. This summer Nwogu is setting out to build a suite of basketball “smart games” that teach children STEM skills, such as quantum computing, machine learning, augmented reality, and virtual reality, to help them succeed beyond sports. Nwogu was selected for the CommonBond Startup Fellowship for his creative business model, his passion for making an impact, and his unique experiences that provide traction for his business ideas. His prior experience as a founding member of three sports-related startups and his current role as the Marketing and Analytics Director of the newly formed UNC Kenan-Flagler Center of Sport Business uniquely position him to make this dream a reality.   

“Entrepreneurially minded MBA students are faced with a tough decision each summer: pursue their entrepreneurial dreams for little to no pay, or take a lucrative corporate internship,” said David Klein, CEO and co-founder of CommonBond. “I faced a very similar decision between my first and second years of business school and was very fortunate to have won a $2,500 entrepreneurship scholarship that summer to continue pursuing CommonBond. Chi’s efforts to teach STEM skills through sports aligns with our belief that businesses can – and should – be a positive force for change. We were extremely impressed by the quality of UNC Kenan-Flagler applicants we received this year, and the future looks bright for entrepreneurs who want to effect social change.” Nwogu was in NYC working with the digital startup Ballstar when he received the news that he had been selected. “I was in the subway when I learned that I had received the CommonBond Startup Fellowship, and felt tears well up in my eyes,” said Nwogu. “I am grateful that my diligence and vision have been recognized, and I am humbled knowing that there are others who are just as deserving of this fellowship.”     

CommonBond, which is based in New York City, has a history of supporting the development of for-profit businesses that drive social change. Beyond this partnership with UNC Kenan-Flagler’s EVC Club, the company also awards its annual CommonBond Social Impact Award to the country's top student social entrepreneur, to encourage socially responsible business ideas. More broadly, CommonBond is the only company in finance to have a “one-for-one” social mission –  the company calls its Social Promise: for every loan CommonBond funds, it also funds the education of a child in need, through a partnership with Pencils of Promise.  

About CommonBond

CommonBond is a financial technology company on a mission to give students and graduates more transparent, simple, and affordable ways to pay for higher education. By designing a better student loan experience that combines advanced technology with competitive rates and award-winning customer service, CommonBond has funded $1 billion in loans for its tens of thousands of members. The company’s enterprise platform, CommonBond for Business™, enables employees to receive a suite of student loan repayment benefits from their employer. CommonBond is the first and only finance company with a "one-for-one" social mission: for every loan it funds, CommonBond also funds the education of a child in need, through its partnership with Pencils of Promise. For more information, visit www.commonbond.co.

About UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School

Consistently ranked one of the world's best business schools, UNC Kenan-Flagler is known for its collaborative culture that stems from its core values: excellence, leadership, integrity, community and teamwork. Professors excel at both teaching and research, and demonstrate unparalleled dedication to students. Graduates are effective, principled leaders who have the technical and managerial skills to deliver results in the global business environment. UNC Kenan-Flagler offers a rich portfolio of programs and extraordinary, real-life learning experiences: Undergraduate Business, full-time MBA, Executive MBA Programs (Evening, Weekend and global OneMBA®), online MBA@UNC, UNC-Tsinghua Dual-Degree EMBA, Master of Accounting, PhD, Executive Development, and UNC Business Essentials programs. It is home to the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise. 

Press Contacts: 

Matt Dallhoff 

UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School 


Bethany Hill