Averett University Hires Distinguished Entrepreneur, Creates New Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Posted on June 25th, 2020 by Travis Dix

Averett University today announced that Averett graduate and internationally accomplished entrepreneur and innovator John Vigouroux ’82 will join the university in August as chief entrepreneurship and innovation officer, and will lead a new initiative – the Averett Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Set to launch early in the fall semester, the Center will serve as an academic/learning lab and entrepreneurial gateway for students, connecting them with the region’s economic environment while accelerating and supporting the entrepreneurial ecosystem in southern Virginia. Vigouroux and Averett faculty members will work to create new multidisciplinary learning methods with an intense entrepreneurship focus in classrooms and featuring hands-on work with businesses, organizations and other regional partners.

“With this new Center and John’s leadership, Averett is moving forward during a time where it seems like everything has been halted. It’s during these times that we must resist only looking inwardly, and move boldly and invest in strategic initiatives to support innovations that will shape a better future,” said Averett President Dr. Tiffany M. Franks.

“As a highly successful serial entrepreneur, John has had an absolutely remarkable career. He’s an inspirational visionary who has led breakthrough innovations through the startup of companies large and small,” Franks said. “He has a global network of accomplished entrepreneurs and business leaders from whom students, graduates and community partners from across our region will learn and benefit.”

Vigouroux has significant and varied connections to Averett, as an undergraduate business administration graduate, as a soccer alumnus and member of Averett’s Athletic Hall of Fame, and most recently as a former member of Averett’s Board of Trustees.

“Averett inspired me to become who I am today,” said Vigouroux. “I look forward to helping Averett continue its tradition of student-focused success to include the new Averett Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. I am excited to pay it forward and help Averett students write their own success stories.”

The Center will serve as an on-campus hub for reviewing the latest data examining which skills and knowledge employers most desire, and then shaping their own Averett experiences around those data. It will help Averett realize its goal of 100% of students completing a minimum of two workplace/marketplace experiences prior to graduation, like internships and fieldwork.

“To be able to give every student, regardless of major, the opportunity for problem-based learning inspired by real-world connections is a dream come true,” said Dr. Peggy Wright, chair of Averett’s business department and professor of accounting. “Averett has always thrived as a result of intense student-faculty interaction and this Center will increase these opportunities significantly. Every Averett student will benefit from relevant, market-driven curricular and co-curricular experiences leading to lifelong career competitiveness.”

Vigouroux also will work to augment the reach and impact of the already highly successful Center for Community Engagement and Career Competitiveness (CCECC) at Averett by working with the CCECC staff to create new career development pipelines and potential experiential learning projects like service-learning and issue-based learning courses. Faculty inspired interdisciplinary project-based learning, idea creation, and collaborative problem-solving are just a few of the experiential learning opportunities this new Center will provide. In addition, Averett will develop a speaker series that will pull from Vigouroux’s extensive connections to feature corporate innovators, entrepreneurs, Averett alumni and both public- and private-sector organizations.

“This new focus and expertise on innovation and entrepreneurship at Danville’s hometown university will certainly benefit the city and the region, as well,” said Ken Larking, city manager of the City of Danville, Va. “We look forward to developing more strategic partnerships that will provide new revenue and resource opportunities for both Averett students and for industry in the region.”

Vigouroux emphasizes that students, faculty, staff and regional partners will be participating as founders of this new Center. Because innovation and opportunities exist in every endeavor, the work of the new Center will benefit those in all disciplines, with Vigouroux serving as “chief silo jumper.”

    Full Circle

    The Averett Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation is going to be led by a man who came here as a kid … a former Averett student who was president of his class for three years, who was an Averett soccer player (inducted into the Averett Athletic Hall of Fame) and who is now internationally recognized and accomplished as a successful, serial entrepreneur.

    He and his wife, their twin girls — who will be starting college in the fall — and their two dogs are making their way from Orange County, Calif., to return to the home of his Alma Mater in order to lead this meaningful, exciting work.

    His journey has come full circle.

    As an eight-time president and CEO, John Vigouroux has successfully piloted and exited both private and public technology companies, including three Nasdaq companies, three venture-backed global software organizations and two unique big data/artificial intelligence software incubators.

    During his 37 years in business and technology, he personally raised more than $100 million for his companies from private equity, venture capital and high net worth individuals.

    As CEO, he has overseen sales and support offices in two dozen countries, serving thousands of global corporate customers and, in one instance, three million worldwide consumer customers. He established and ran company-owned sizable technology development centers in the U.S., the United Kingdom, India, France, Israel, Romania, Bulgaria, New Zealand and Taiwan.

    He is set to join Averett full-time as chief entrepreneurship and innovation officer on August 3.