Philanthropic commitment from alumnus Win Sheridan boosts Virginia Tech's student entrepreneurship ecosystem
Virginia Tech’s thriving student entrepreneurship ecosystem will receive a boost thanks to a $500,000 commitment to the Apex Center for Entrepreneurs from Win Sheridan ’94.
Sheridan’s philanthropic investment will help the Apex Center for Entrepreneurs, a transdisciplinary center housed within Pamplin College of Business, engage more student entrepreneurs in educational programing, networking, and funding opportunities to catalyze their business ventures.
Launched in 2014, the Apex Center was named in recognition of a joint commitment of $5 million by Sheridan and fellow Virginia Tech alumni Brian Callaghan ’93, Ted Hanson ’91, and Jeff Veatch ’93. Namesake Apex Systems is the information technology staffing and services company that Sheridan, Callaghan, and Veatch founded in 1995. Apex Systems was acquired in 2012 by ASGN Incorporated, for which Sheridan serves as a director.
In its inaugural year, the Apex Center delivered educational programming and events to 135 aspiring student entrepreneurs. Progressing on a path of tremendous growth, that number jumped to over 2,000 in academic year 2021-22, with 530 of those students — from 112 majors — participating in specialized experiential learning opportunities hosted by the center.
In the program, students work closely with faculty who share insights from their professional experiences. Students also interact with a network of successful alumni entrepreneurs, which included 38 mentors in 2021-22. In the same year, over $21,000 in grants and cash prizes were awarded to 49 student-led startup teams to build and launch new products and services.
Apex Center-supported startups are implementing solutions that streamline the student application process for internships and full-time jobs, keep senior citizens socially connected, advance the use of augmented reality and machine learning to support special-needs education, and much more.
“Win Sheridan is a tremendous leader and from the start has been deeply engaged in our mission of inspiring and empowering Virginia Tech students to turn their passion, purpose, and ideas into action,” said Derick Maggard, executive director of the Apex Center for Entrepreneurs. “There is extraordinary demand for our programs, and Win’s commitment will help supercharge our ability to provide students with transformative experiential education and growth opportunities.”
Sheridan’s gift will help engage more students in Apex programming and events — such as its first-ever Startup Weekend on Sept. 2-3 that immersed students in all aspects of the entrepreneur journey. The gift also will facilitate more student touchpoints with mentors and will offer more students the chance to participate in growth opportunities outside of Blacksburg, such as meetings with potential investors and national pitch competitions.
“Across every industry, entrepreneurship is a force multiplier for good,” Sheridan said. “ Supporting the Apex Center is a philanthropic investment in the next generation of entrepreneurs — and their potential to impact positive change within their networks, local communities, and on a global scale. It’s my hope this gift will inspire fellow entrepreneurs to rally behind this dynamic center so that future Hokie entrepreneurs can take advantage of top-notch programs and build meaningful connections to propel their ventures,” said Sheridan.
Sheridan earned his bachelor's degrees in political science and English with a minor in business administration from Virginia Tech in 1994. He is highly engaged in many aspects of the university, including Virginia Tech Athletics, where he served on the Virginia Tech Athletic Fund Board. He recently pledged $5 million to the Virginia Tech football program to support the design and renovations of locker room facilities. Along with the Apex board, Sheridan also serves on the boards of several nonprofit organizations, including PeacePlayers International and the ONE Campaign Global Leadership Council.
Virginia Tech’s entrepreneurship ecosystem continues to thrive
Virginia Tech remains a destination of choice for student entrepreneurs. In 2022, the university earned the top national award for excellence in entrepreneurship education from the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship. Virginia Tech was ranked No. 25 for undergraduate entrepreneurship programs by Princeton Review’s rankings for 2022.
The honors cite Virginia Tech’s interdisciplinary and integrative approach to entrepreneurship as a key differentiator. Nearly 5,000 students are enrolled in entrepreneurship courses across every college and institute at the university. At the Apex Center, programs and services are open to students from all majors and class years. Along with academics, entrepreneurship is also widely integrated into research, living-learning communities, and student extracurriculars.
“I want to thank Win Sheridan for his continued generosity and for his steadfast belief in the power of entrepreneurship education,” said Pamplin College of Business Interim Dean Roberta “Robin” Russell. "Virginia Tech’s land-grant mission charges university programs to be relevant in addressing local, national, and global needs. The entrepreneurial mindset, skills, and relationships gained through the Apex Center, and our entrepreneurship ecosystem, are lifelong assets students can draw upon to accomplish this call-to-action.”