Philadelphia University student entrepreneur Jordan DeCicco, who started the organic coffee energy drink company Sunniva from his freshman dorm room, has been awarded a $100,000 Thiel Fellowship to further develop his business.
DeCicco, a star point guard for the men’s basketball team, received the two-year fellowship from tech investor Peter Thiel’s foundation, which also provides participants with access to a network of technology entrepreneurs, investors and scientists.
He founded Sunniva, a protein-packed, all-natural, ready-to-drink coffee beverage, when he couldn’t find a suitable drink that wasn’t loaded with sugar to fuel his 5 a.m. basketball practices. DeCicco worked with PhilaU’s Blackstone LaunchPad to develop the product and define the company’s vision, which is to provide an easy, healthy and convenient way for consumers to energize and be health-conscious. His brothers Jake and Jim are now part of the business.
“Entrepreneurship is pure innovation and creative thinking,” DeCicco previously told PhilaU Today. “It’s going into a competitive industry, believing in your product and making it happen.”
He enrolled in PhilaU as a business major in 2014, took a year off to develop his growing company and returned to the University last fall as a sophomore.
DeCicco is one of 25 young entrepreneurs selected for the 2017 class of Thiel Fellows, a program that launched in 2011.
“This year’s fellows were selected from thousands of applications from around the world,” said Jack Abraham, executive director of the Thiel Fellowship. “These young founders demonstrate incredible drive and courage to tackle problems that often haven’t even been addressed before, let alone solved.”
Read more about DeCicco’s entrepreneurial venture here.