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Q&A With Leazar Award Recipient Gabe Huntsman

Gabe Huntsman is the 2024 recipient of the John and Linda Leazar Award in Entrepreneurship.

Gabe delivering a pitch for Afuse at the 2024 VenturePack Challenge.

Gabe Huntsman, a junior majoring in business administration with a concentration in finance and a minor in science communication, is the 2024 recipient of the John and Linda Leazar Award in Entrepreneurship. This award supports NC State students who have demonstrated initiative and a commitment to entrepreneurial excellence in support of their own personal ambitions as well as the support of NC State Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Huntsman has been involved with the entrepreneurial community at NC State, which has allowed him to discover how he can turn his passions into tangible outcomes to positively impact the world. He was the top winner in this year’s VenturePack Challenge and took home $9,000 for his startup Afuse, a reliable platform for building early college connections, finding roommates, and easing the anxiety of transitioning to college life.

Read more about his time at NC state and how the Leazar Award will support his company’s growth and achieve a higher level of professionalism.

Q: Tell us about yourself and what you love about NC State.

I’m from Boone, North Carolina, where I graduated high school and was accepted to NC State as a Spring Connect student. During my fall semester before starting at NC State, I began to experiment with what excited me. It was a time when I could truly reflect on the person I wanted to become. In relative solitude, I developed a growth mindset and discovered a passion for entrepreneurship, which I have since applied to all aspects of my life. I love how NC State is a community founded on uplifting others, regardless of their stage of growth. NC State is built on the belief in something bigger than oneself, and it shows on a daily basis. Business is one of my true passions. In my free time, I love to fish, snowboard, spend time outdoors, and hang out with my friends and family.

Q: What are your experiences and passions when it comes to entrepreneurship?

From dishwashing to ride-sharing, to reselling clothing, to creating a mobile app, I have found entrepreneurship is more than the classic thought of “running a business.” It’s about taking on the difficult tasks others won’t do in a role-model-like manner, and it’s about leading people in a way so that everyone can enjoy success, no matter the circumstance. I firmly believe entrepreneurship, driven by good faith, is the purest form of human innovation, passion, and persistence, as it guides our society to push the boundaries of what we think is possible for the betterment of all peoples.

It is an undeniable gift that I have been fortunate enough to participate in opportunities that are much, much bigger than myself. As an entrepreneur, it is up to me to create systems from my business incentives that lift people up from all walks of life. With that, I believe everyone has what it takes to be an entrepreneur in some shape or form in our lives; it’s just a matter of taking that first step.

Q: How you will use the Leazar Award to reach your goal?

The Leazar award will allow me to better professionalize aspects of my business as I invest in updated equipment and skill-related opportunities. This investment will help me achieve my goal of making my venture, Afuse, a well-rounded business capable of standing the test of time in the rapidly evolving market we operate in.

Thank you to John and Linda Leazar for creating such an opportunity. I aspire to one day give back to the communities around me, inspired by their actions and unwavering commitment to causes greater than themselves, which deeply resonates with me.

Q: What are your plans for the future?

I plan on finishing up my degree at NC State while fully pursuing my latest venture, Afuse, a mobile app designed to connect prospective college students by allowing them to find roommates and friends before they attend their university. Although I have come far, my mission of making a lasting positive impact on the world is far from complete. I’m excited for all the people—past, present, and future—who are joining me on this mission, whether they realize it or not.

I wanted to extend my gratitude to NC State Innovation and Entrepreneurship for providing tools and resources not only to me but also to countless other students, enabling us to become world-class individuals where our ‘thinking’ can truly be turned into ‘doing’. I’ve witnessed firsthand the incredible impact our program here at State is having on the world!

Congratulations to the deserving recipient!