Press Releases

New York City Economic Development Corporation Announces Kick-Off of 2012 "NYC Venture Fellows" and "World to NYC" Programs, Encouraging National and International Businesses to Locate and Grow in New York City

New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and Fordham University today announced the start of the 2012 NYC Venture Fellows program with a weeklong series of events, including meetings with leading New York City companies, workshops, panel discussions, and networking events. The 2012 class of Venture Fellows is comprised of 28 entrepreneurs—five more than the previous year—from 12 different international cities around the world, including New York City, and representing a diverse cross-section of industries such as bio-med, fashion/retail, and social ventures. The NYC Venture Fellows program is a year-long fellowship program that connects emerging business leaders from around the world with mentors from leading companies. The fellowship aims to increase collaboration among startups and established businesses, as well as encourage national and international startups to locate and grow their businesses in New York City. The annual program is a joint-effort between New York City Economic Development Corporation and Fordham University, and is one of several initiatives—along with the World to NYC program—aimed at attracting international businesses to New York City. As part of World to NYC, this week New York City is also hosting a delegation of 35 international tech startup companies who will learn from experts about New York City business and culture and take advantage of networking opportunities and information on NYCEDC resources that are available.

“Through innovative programs like Venture Fellows and World to NYC, we will ensure that New York City continues to strengthen its position in an era of increasing global competition,” said New York City Economic Development Corporation President Seth W. Pinsky. “By introducing established businesses to the many opportunities that exist within the five boroughs—as well as providing emerging entrepreneurs with the mentorship needed for their businesses to take the critical next steps towards success—we are confident New York City will remain the global hub of business and innovation well into the 21st century.”

“This initiative is a model for building economic competitiveness though academic partnerships,” said Stephen Freedman, Ph.D., provost of the University and professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Fordham. “The Venture Fellows program enables creativity in its participants and opens the walls of the University to the larger community in a way that enriches both.”
NYC Venture Fellows, originally launched in December 2010 and now in its second year, provides late-stage entrepreneurs with a team of mentors to assist them in achieving the next level of growth for their company and personal careers, and provides counsel on issues specific to each fellow’s business. The program is designed for entrepreneurs whose businesses are at a critical stage in development, where the companies have the potential to substantially increase their employment. Fellows and mentors will meet regularly over the course of the year with extra guidance at critical moments, such as when a venture is nearing an acquisition or Initial Public Offering or to draw on the experience of the mentors and hear best practices on how to maintain company culture during periods of rapid growth.

The 2012 class of NYC Venture Fellows include: DonorsChoose Co-founder and Chief Executive Charles Best; BaseKit Co-founder and CTO Simon Best; Medivo, Inc. Co-founder and CEO Sundeep Bhan; EnNatura Technology Ventures Co-founder and CEO Sidhartha Kumar Bhimania; Warby Parker Co-founder and co-CEO Neil Blumenthal; H.Bloom Co-founder and CEO Bryan Burkhart; MBA & Company Founder and MD Daniel Callaghan; Co-founder and CEO Shawn Cheng; Catchafire Founder and CEO Rachael Chong; Rent the Runway Co-founder and President Jennifer Fleiss; Co-founder and CEO Guillaume Gauthereau; Warby Parker Co-founder and co-CEO Dave Gilboa; charity: water Founder and CEO Scott Harrison; Paperless Post Co-founder Alexa Hirschfeld; Miniwiz Founder and MD Arthur Huang; Rent the Runway Co-founder and CEO Jennifer Hyman; Lot18 Co-founder and President Philip James; Student Competitions Co-founder, Chairman and CFO Robert Lyngman; Founder and CEO Shauna Mei; The IOU Project Founder and Creative Director Kavita Parmar; MakerBot Industries Co-founder and CEO Bre Pettis; BillGuard Founder and CEO Yaron Samid; Papayamobile Co-founder and CEO Si Shen; South Pole Carbon Asset Management Ltd. Co-founder and CEO Christoph Sutter; LanguageMate Founder and CEO Bill Tan; soleRebels Co-founder and MD Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu; Yipit Co-founder and CEO Vinicius Vacanti; and LearnVest Founder and CEO Alexa von Tobel.
These fellows were selected by a committee of leaders from the private and public sectors, chaired by FirstMark Capital CEO and Managing Director Lawrence Lenihan; President of Fordham University Rev. Joseph M. McShane; President of The Metropolitan Museum of Art Emily Rafferty; WPP Group CEO Sir Martin Sorrell; and Union Square Ventures Managing Partner Fred Wilson.
A select group of established executives including investors, serial entrepreneurs, CEOs and managers from companies located in New York City, across the United States and internationally will serve as Mentors to the NYC Venture Fellows. The mentors include: Sol Adler, Executive Director of the 92nd Street Y; Yosi Ben-Dov, CEO of Time to Know; Steve Brotman, Managing Director of Greenhill SAVP; John Caplan, CEO of OpenSky; Juan Luis Cebrián, CEO of PRISA; Brian Cohen, Vice Chairman of NY Angels and President of iFluence PR; Simon Collins, Dean of Fashion at Parsons The New School For Design; Michael J. Cosgrove, President and CEO of GE Asset Management; Mark Davis, CEO and Co-Founder of Kohort; Owen Davis, Managing Director of NYC Seed; Renaud Dutreil, Chairman of LVMH ; Roger Ehrenberg, Founder and Managing Partner of IA Ventures; Sander Flaum, CEO of Flaum Partners; Stephen Friedman, President of MTV; Bob Greene, Managing Partner of Contour Venture Partners; Eric Hippeau, Partner of Lerer Ventures; Jerry Hultin, President of Polytechnic Institute of New York University; Arrun Kapoor, Managing Director of SJF Ventures; Patrick Keane, President of Bedrocket Media; Charlie Kim, Founder and CEO of Next Jump; Warren Lee, General Partner of Canaan Partners; Ben Lerer, CEO of Thrillist; Cyrus Massoumi, CEO of ZocDoc ; Steve Markov, Chief Commercial Officer of WGSN; Madeline McIntosh, President of Sales, Operations and Digital at Random House; Heidi Messer, CEO of World Evolved; Gregory R. Miller, Managing Director of Greenhill & Co.; Alan Morgan, Co-Founder of MMC Ventures, Ltd.; Brian O’Kelley, CEO and Co-Founder of Appnexus; Donn Rappaport, CEO of American List Counsel; Mazdack Rassi, Founder and Creative Director of Milk Studios; Frank Rimalovski, Managing Director of NYU Innovation Venture Fund; David Rose, Chairman Emeritus of New York Angels and Managing Principal of Rose Tech Ventures; Joshua Ruch, Chairman and CEO of Rho Capital Partners, Inc.; Karl Slatoff, COO of Zelnick Media; John N. Tognino, Chairman and CEO ofPepper Financial Group; Mark H. Tuohey, III, Partner at Brown Rudnick; Robert Valdes-Rodriguez, Financial Advisor at Alliance Bernstein; Laura Weil, Former CEO of Urban Brands; Albert Wenger, Partner at Union Square Ventures; Lilian Wu, Program Executive, Global University Programs IBM Technology Strategy and Innovation; Lauren Zalaznick, President of NBC Universal Women’s & Lifestyle Networks.

The inaugural class of NYC Venture Fellows consisted of 23 fellows from some of New York City’s fastest growing ventures including Foursquare, Etsy and SecondMarket. Other Fellows are international digital media pioneers, nonprofit entrepreneurs, and cleantech innovators from countries including China, Germany, and India.

Through World to NYC, this week New York City is hosting a delegation of 35 international tech startup companies who will learn from experts about New York City business and culture and take advantage of networking opportunities and information on NYCEDC resources available. Among the international companies in attendance are Adinsight Limited from the UK, Hubbog from Colombia, and NewGenApps from India. The program kicked off on Monday with a panel discussion on NYC’s booming tech startup scene at General Assembly, one of the incubators in the City’s growing network of affordable workspaces. On Tuesday, attendees will visit TheLadders and Gilt Groupe offices, and on Wednesday, a stop at tech startup co-working space “Hive at 55” is planned, along with an Investor Pitch workshop and a panel discussion with HR representatives on recruiting top engineering talent in the city. Launched in December of 2010, World to NYC seeks to promote trade and investment between New York City and the global economy by hosting business delegations from cities and regions around the world.

Additionally, over the past 12 months, NYCEDC has aggressively courted companies in China and India, meeting with over 200 Indian and Chinese companies to discuss the unique challenges they face as they expand into the City, and to make the case that New York City is the ideal platform for U.S. market entry. In 2009 the City launched NYC Next Idea, a global business plan competition, which encourages innovative business ventures to launch and operate in New York City. NYC Next Idea will select the winners of its 3rd annual competition in late March.

NYC Venture Fellows is part of the Bloomberg Administration’s efforts to encourage entrepreneurship within a variety of sectors. With a growing network of incubators around the City, the Administration is providing low-cost office space, as well as training and networking opportunities, to hundreds of start-ups and small businesses. In addition, in 2010, the City launched the New York City Entrepreneurial Fund (NYCEF), the first City-sponsored seed and early-stage investment fund located outside of Silicon Valley. NYCEF will make up to $22 million available to New York City-based technology startups.

For more information on the NYC Venture Fellows program and to submit a nomination for the 2013 class, go to


New York City Economic Development Corporation is the City's primary vehicle for promoting economic growth in each of the five boroughs. NYCEDC's mission is to stimulate growth through expansion and redevelopment programs that encourage investment, generate prosperity and strengthen the City's competitive position. NYCEDC serves as an advocate to the business community by building relationships with companies that allow them to take advantage of New York City's many opportunities. Find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, or visit our blog to learn more about NYCEDC projects and initiatives.


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