Insights from category creators and the investors who believe in them.

Lessons From the GGV NextGen Fellowship

June 14, 2022
By Christina Pasanen
Twenty-two faces of 2022 GGV NextGen Fellows

The NextGen Fellowship is a crash course in entrepreneurship for college students with sessions led by GGV investors, early-stage founders, acclaimed professors in design thinking and entrepreneurship, and early-career tech professionals. 

As we enter our second year of the fellowship, we wanted to showcase what we learned from the inaugural class—and what caught our eye after sifting through 850 applications from more than 185 colleges and universities. 

It’s never too early to learn and lead

Founders know that in order to succeed, you have to put yourself out there and try. We applied this same principle to the students in the NextGen Fellowship—the applicants who stood out the most are proactive and take initiative to do something unique. 

One undergraduate student saw a lack of mental health resources for young students in her hometown and created a group to provide wellness resources, tutoring help, and textbooks to those students at risk. 

Another student failed his first coding course but watched YouTube videos and tutorials in order to improve and ultimately received a summer internship in a tech company. Taking a risk—even if that means failing along the way—is critical to the success of founders and the NextGen Fellows.

We screened applicants for three components:

  • Motivation for the program: We looked for undergraduate students who did research on the program, asking meaningful questions, and could articulate what they wanted to bring and learn from the program. Like any good interview, students who brought authenticity, passion and well-researched questions, performed the best.
  • Interest in technology: We prioritized students who are passionate about tech products, have participated in tech-related groups or clubs, or enjoy learning about technological innovation. Whether a student is constantly on Discord or creating a TikTok for their startup, we love to see a commitment to innovation and tech.
  • “Culture add:” We took a closer look at students with perspectives that can contribute to a well-rounded cohort—whether it’s learning to code, starting a club, or working after school in retail or hospitality, each fellow brings something unique to the table.

We also asked previous fellows to share their reflections about the GGV NextGen Fellowship—and their best advice for the 2022 cohort: 

Make it a point to set personal goals

Georgia Messinger

Georgia Messinger
2021 GGV NextGen Fellow at Valence
Harvard University Class of 2022, B.A., Psychology and Computer Science

Advice for the next generation: “Set both personal and professional OKRs before a summer experience. Maybe it's wanting to complete a certain project that you can include on your resume or wanting to get coffee at least once a week—virtually or in person—with a coworker at your company. Make friends. Put yourself out there.” 

What makes the GGV NextGen Fellowship unique: “It's about actually investing in us as students and as future founders or current founders in our projects. So really take advantage of that—it's not that often that you get to interface with really prominent venture capitalists and understand the minds of investors while being in an operator role.”

What’s next: “I'm going to be working in New York City as an associate product manager at a Series A company called Everyrealm. We invest in, develop, and manage metaverse technologies, which is totally out of my comfort zone. But I'm really excited to just dive nose first into the experience and learn a ton working with a really awesome team in a really fast-paced startup environment.”

Start building your network

Sidhant Bendre

Sidhant (Sid) Bendre
2021 GGV NextGen Fellow at Slack
University of Rochester Class of 2023, B.S., Computer Science

Advice for the next generation: “I wish I'd started making more of an effort to talk to and meet with a lot of the other fellows much earlier in the fellowship—the few who I reached out to before the fellowship started ended up being the folks I've kept most in touch with. You've got an amazing cohort of extremely gifted students working at some of the most innovative firms in the world—it's an insane network to have now, and it will only become more valuable in the future. Meet up with fellows in person if you're in the same city!”

Pro tip: “Prepare for the AMAs! Have planned questions, and do your research in advance. You'll get to meet a number of industry leaders and experts, making it a golden opportunity to hear about their experiences and pull from perspectives they've cultivated over their careers—your learning is only limited by the quality of the questions you ask.”

Meet the 2022 GGV NextGen Fellows

Learn more about the GGV NextGen Fellowship