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Vanguard Entrepreneurial Leaders Expedition

Each year in late August and early September a cohort travels to Silicon Valley for one week. The opportunity to apply for this programme is by invitation only. The seven-day tour includes visits to start-ups, investors and iconic companies like Google and Facebook, a tour of the Stanford campus, and connecting with the Silicon Valley start-up eco-system. 

About the Vanguard Entrepreneurial Leaders Expedition

The Vanguard Entrepreneurial Leaders Expedition is made possible through the generosity of philanthropist and entrepreneur Tony Falkenstein, who believes in the power of business to positively impact on people’s lives. The Onehunga-raised chief executive of Just Water believes passionately in business education. “I would love to see a day where every university student would spend a semester overseas, whether it be experiencing another university, working in a large company or start-up, or seeing the collaboration of ideas in Silicon Valley. The Vanguard Entrepreneurial Leaders Expedition gives that privilege to a few, and hopefully the start of a programme for many,” says Falkenstein.

Philanthropist encourages future entrepreneurs

“Life changing” study tour of Silicon Valley

Tony Falkenstein


Tony Falkenstein

Who is it designed for?

Selected, high-achieving, entrepreneurial students receive an invitation to apply to the Vanguard Entrepreneurial Leaders Expedition. After a competitive selection process, a small group of 14-16 students from across the University receive their confirmation to join this once-in-a-life-time experience.

While the trip is made possible through philanthropy, participants will be asked to contribute $500 towards the trip. Should covering this expense prevent you from applying, a hardship allowance is available. For a confidential conversation, please reach out to

To be eligible for the programme you must be being a current undergraduate or PhD student at the University of Auckland, based in New Zealand. This means that you will be enrolled to study in the first semester of 2024. 


Programme structure

The trip will be designed so participants can see, try, reflect, share and discuss during the week.

The trip will include visits to places such
as global innovative and entrepreneurial companies, Universities and Innovation Labs based in San Francisco and Silicon Valley.

You will have networking opportunities with University of Auckland and Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship alumni working in the Valley and presentations on the Silicon Valley’s ecosystem, and how these lessons can be applied to New Zealand.


Timing and commitment

Each participant commits to all prework, travelling with the cohort and creating a reflection of their learnings from the trip.


First pre-workshop  18 July 2024, 4-6pm 
Second pre-workshop  5 August 2024, 4-6pm 
Study Tour – San Francisco and Silicon Valley  25 August – 1 September 2024
Presentation to stakeholders  10 September 2024, 4-6pm 


Application is by invitation only. A select group of students are requested to apply by email.

Vanguard Code of Conduct contract