Chris Loose, 40, and Christian Wentz, 34, are paying their Hertz Foundation fellowships forward, joining forces to fund a new named fellowship and encouraging others whose careers have been transformed by the foundation to do the same.
“The Hertz Foundation gave many of us the freedom to pursue big ideas and to build new, successful companies,” said Loose, chief scientific officer and cofounder of Frequency Therapeutics. “I’m very grateful and wanted to give back.”
“The foundation has been very generous in helping me with my own career,” said Wentz, CEO of Gradient. “The funding is great, but the foundation’s real value is its network and the ability to speak with a lot of like-minded people and figure out how to collectively make a better world.”
Loose and Wentz hail from very different fields. Loose’s Frequency Therapeutics is a biotechnology company focused on harnessing the body’s innate biology to repair or reverse damage caused by a broad range of degenerative diseases. The company currently is in clinical trials on a therapy for hearing loss. Wentz’s Gradient Technologies is developing a software platform that redefines how identity and data are authenticated and shared securely.
When it comes to supporting people who are boldly looking to change society, they’re on common ground.
“We don’t care what field the fellow is from,” said Loose. “We’re looking for someone who has intense curiosity and the ability to bring together insights from multiple fields in surprising ways.”
Pooling resources with another fellow was also an important aspect of the endeavor. “If you are willing and able to donate more than your typical annual gift, but solely funding a larger gift is out of reach, why not join together with others?” Wentz said.
Fellowship named for Harold Newman
The entrepreneurs have named the fellowship in honor of businessman Harold Newman for his profound and enthusiastic support of their companies. Newman, who has served on the Hertz board of directors for 30 years, supports entrepreneurship among Hertz Fellows through the Peter Strauss Award, which recognizes early-career fellows who have made significant achievements in an entrepreneurial endeavor, and the Harold Newman and David Galas Entrepreneurial Initiative, which provides investments up to $25,000 and professional support to Hertz Fellows who propose the most innovative entrepreneurial projects.
“What has kept me at the Hertz Foundation is the people—because they are brilliant; because I’ve listened to fellows tell me about things that I never knew existed before,” Newman said.
Both Loose and Wentz met Newman soon after receiving the Hertz Fellowship. He was an early investor in their companies and opened up nontraditional paths to fundraising and growth.
“We are a fundamentally different company because of Harold’s involvement, both as an investor and as an advisor,” said Wentz. “Even though he will claim he doesn’t have deep technical knowledge of the subject matter, he’s able to ask insightful and relevant questions in a way that even deeply technical people do not ask.”
“He’s been unconditionally supportive,” added Loose. “He doesn’t have a deep technical background, but he’s a huge believer in people. He’s so passionate about the Hertz Foundation because of its richly talented and innovative people. He’s been a good friend to me and to many others in the foundation.”
The first recipient of the Harold Newman Innovation Fellowship is Jillian Silbert, a Harvard University student interested in studying interactions within bacterial communities and applications of microbiology research to current environmental or biomedical issues.
Loose and Wentz hope that others who have done well will pay it forward by supporting the foundation. “Imagine if there were twice or three times the number of people who had the Hertz Foundation experience, and what they would do for the world,” Wentz said.
“If you feel like the foundation has been transformative to your career, think about giving back,” said Loose. “We hope our effort will be a call to arms for other mid-career people who have been blessed to be part of the Hertz community.”
When you give to the Hertz Foundation, your investment helps a promising innovator tackle the world’s toughest challenges–from the health of our families to the health of our planet.