Undergraduate entrepreneur wins $100K scholarship to launch company

Tara Seshan

Tara Seshan

Tara Seshan, a senior Bachelor of Science in Public Health student in UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health’s environmental sciences and engineering department, has received a $100,000 fellowship to launch an innovative health services company.

Seshan is the entrepreneur behind Chek.Up, which seeks to provide better health monitoring and evaluation in low-resource settings. A finalist in the 2012 Carolina Challenge competition sponsored by UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, Seshan was selected by entrepreneur Peter Thiel to receive the prestigious Thiel Fellowship, awarded to 20 young innovative thinkers under age 20. Thiel’s “20 under 20″ program allows young thinkers to pursue scientific and technical projects, learn entrepreneurship and begin to build the innovative companies they envision. “My team and I are looking to gain traction in the field of using mobile applications and data analysis to improve public health outcomes within chronic disease,” Seshan said. “We are excited to gain insights and move forward.” Burcu Bozkurt, another undergraduate student in health policy and management, is also on the Chek.Up team. “We continue to be blown away by the quality of ideas coming from ’20 Under 20′ applicants,” said Jonathan Cain, president of the Thiel Foundation. “The mentors in the [foundation network] are very excited to work with the 2012 class as they explore new frontiers, experience the setbacks and successes of entrepreneurial pursuits, and begin changing the world one idea at a time.” CNBC aired the program “20 Under 20: Transforming Tomorrow,” in July. Video of Seshan and the other winners is available online. Thiel, a German-born American entrepreneur, co-founded PayPal Inc. and served as its chief executive officer. Currently, he is president of Clarium Capital, a global macro hedge fund. He established the annual Thiel Fellowship in 2011.


UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health contact: Linda Kastleman, communications editor, (919) 966-8317 or linda_kastleman@unc.edu.