New Scholarship Supports Diversity in Entrepreneurship
NC State Entrepreneurship is pleased to announce a new merit-and-need-based scholarship focused on enhancing diversity in entrepreneurship and technical fields.
The Alagu Periyannan and Theivanai Palaniappan Entrepreneurship Scholarship will benefit students with outstanding achievements in or involvement with entrepreneurship activities. Both Periyannan and Palaniappan strongly believe in the importance of diversity in entrepreneurship and STEM professions. “There is a limited presence of women entrepreneurs and technologists in the world today and we believe change is needed,” said the donors.
About the Donors
Alagu Periyannan, M.S. Computer Science ’92, is Chief Technology Officer of BlueJeans by Verizon, a cloud-based video conferencing company headquartered in San Jose, CA. Periyannan co-founded BlueJeans in 2009 and served as its Chief Technology Officer until the company was acquired by Verizon in 2020. Prior to co-founding BlueJeans, Periyannan was an Entrepreneur in Residence at both Norwest Venture Partners and Greylock Partners.
In his more than 25 years in Silicon Valley bringing innovative networking and video products to market, he has also held executive positions in technology and engineering at Blue Coat Systems (acquired by Symantec), the leader in web security for large Fortune 500 enterprises. Periyannan started his career as an engineer at Apple in the Advanced Technology Group working on video-over networks and was a founding member of the QuickTime Streaming team, the underlying foundation for Apple’s media products.
Periyannan’s wife, Theivanai Palaniappan, is an analytics executive in the financial sector. She has a Ph.D. in Finance from Columbia Business School. Both Periyannan and Palaniappan earned their undergraduate degrees at the Birla Institute of Technology & Science (BITS), Pilani, India. They live in the San Francisco Bay Area and have two daughters.
A Longtime Supporter of Entrepreneurship at NC State
For nearly a decade, Periyannan has hosted NC State students at BlueJeans headquarters during the annual NC State Entrepreneurship trip to Silicon Valley. In 2020, the trip was canceled last minute due to COVID-19. However, Periyannan volunteered to host the students virtually, demonstrating his steadfast commitment to inspiring NC State entrepreneurs.
When asked what motivates him to be an advocate for entrepreneurship at NC State, he stated “I want NC State students to know that it is possible to follow a similar path and achieve their entrepreneurial dreams. I would encourage students to get started early with entrepreneurship unless they have any personal or financial constraints.”
Periyannan spends time giving back to the entrepreneurial community as an advisor to startups and venture investors. He is also an active angel investor and mentor to entrepreneurs in the United States and India. In 2020, Periyannan joined NC State Entrepreneurship’s advisory board.
“Alagu has always been a gracious host when we have visited BlueJeans on our annual Silicon Valley Spring Break trip,” said Dr. Tom Miller, McPherson Family Distinguished Professor and Executive Director of NC State Entrepreneurship. “The students always enjoy hearing about his path from NC State to starting BlueJeans, and the insights he shares as an entrepreneur in the Silicon Valley tech startup world.”
Diversity in Entrepreneurship
Periyannan and Palaniappan believe strongly in the importance of diversity in entrepreneurship and STEM professions. They see the limited presence of women entrepreneurs and technologists in the world today and believe change is needed. “Studies have shown that investing in startups founded by diverse leaders results in better outcomes for all. There is no better place to start this encouragement than at NC State,” Periyannan states.
At NC State, the vibrant entrepreneurship ecosystem encourages and fosters students to take a big, bold idea and run with it. In 2021, NC State was among 8 universities to rank top 20 for both undergraduate and graduate entrepreneurship programs in the country by the Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine. NC State’s largest entrepreneurship competition, the eGames, also ranked top 20 university entrepreneurship competitions in the nation. “It takes a complete infrastructure of academic programs, faculty talent, cutting-edge tools, investor networks and donor support to build a thriving entrepreneurial Pack,” Miller said.