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DURHAM, N.C. – Jud Bowman and Taylor Brockman, who as high schoolers launched a project that later evolved into the mobile technology firm Motricity (Nasdaq: MOTR), are hoping the lightning bolt of creativity that struck them will strike again – and again and again – in the future at their alma mater.

Bowman, now chief executive officer at Durham-based Appia, and Brockman, an engineer at green technology firm Consert, have funded a $100,000 endowment for future entrepreneurs at the North Carolina School of Science and Math.

“We want to inspire them,” Bowman says of the endowment. “We want them to be like Talyor and me – to think outside the box. We want to fund the hungriest.”

To see others succeed as they have is their goal.

“This has been something that Taylor and I have talked about for a long time,” Bowman said. “We realize how much the school impacted us. We were very lucky to get in to the school.

“The truth of the matter is that Taylor and I would never have met. Ultimately, what we talked about and created gave rise to Motricity, which went public. We were extremely lucky in that regard and benefited financially, so this is our chance to give back.”

Brockman shares similar thoughts.

“NCSSM gave us such an incredible opportunity,” he said. “We’re so passionate about creating a direct funding source for students to experiment and push the envelope at NCSSM.”

Proceeds from the endowment will be used to fund projects by NCSSM. The school is for juniors and seniors.

The two became friends while they were juniors at the school, fascinated by what they saw as the possibilities of using mobile phones to search and utilize information from the Internet. They graduated in 1999.

Bowman and Brockman eventually created a company called Pinpoint. Bowman left Stanford University before graduating in order to devote full-time attention to Pinpoint, and the idea for the company was attractive enough to draw venture capital funding from Wakefield Partners in 2000 as the “dot com” boom raged.

Pinpoint later merged with another venture led by Ryan Wuerch, an entrepreneur from Tennessee. That joint venture was known as Motricity. The company went public with a $50 million initial public offering of stock last year. By then, Bowman and Brockman had both left Motricity, Bowman buying the smartphone business from Motricity in order to form Appia. Both left Motricity in 2008. 

The friends funded the Bowman-Brockman Endowment last December, and applications are now being accepted for the first round of grants.

Todd Roberts, NCSSM’s chancellor, said the fund would “provide funding to our students to pursue advanced research projects in science, technology, and mathematics.” He called the two funders “exceptional students.”

Bowman and Brockman will serve on the endowment’s board along with Steve Nelson, a venture capitalist who provided the first investment funds for Pinpoint. Other members include NCSSM Student Body President Krunal Amin and Ashton Powell, a biology teacher at the school. Students receiving funding will be called “Bowman-Brockman Scholars.”

The NCSSM was formed in 1978 and opened in 1980. Bowman and Brockman lived in the Hunt dorm, which is named after former N.C. Gov. Jim Hunt, who spearheaded the creation of the school. Students are drawn from across the state.

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