A signature program of NYCEDC’s Venture Access NYC initiative, the Founder Fellowship is designed to improve access to capital and networks for underrepresented founders across all tech-enabled sectors.
Each year, the Founder Fellowship supports a diverse community of New York City tech startup founder teams with much-needed access to resources and networks to help them grow their companies. Selected teams are placed in Founder Fellow cohorts led by NYCEDC’s program operators. All Fellow teams receive unique value and offerings including:
- Individualized work plans to identify key needs and interests
- Cohort convenings to discuss challenges and receive business administration support
- Connections to capital providers and potential collaborators
- Access to mentors and advisor network
This program goes beyond the ordinary, offering a transformative tech immersion into the world of business creation in the greatest city in the world.
Over 100 startups have participated in the Founder Fellowship since launching in 2022. To date, more than two thirds of Fellow teams have included at least one female founder and approximately 80 percent have been led by Black, Latinx, and/or Asian founders. The 2023 Fellow cohort collectively raised over $12 million and created at least 79 new full-time jobs during the program.
The 2024 Founder Fellowship will include four unique cohorts led by:
- Chloe Capital: A venture capital firm investing with a gender and diversity lens in leaders solving the world’s biggest problems across climate, education and health. Chloe Capital is committed to transforming Founders into Funders by increasing access to capital and building innovation ecosystems through layered systems of visibility, resources, and networks.
- Company Ventures: An NYC-based, seed-stage venture firm that believes deeply in the power of being in good company while building the future. Alongside a network of investors, Company Ventures offers zero equity, mentor-led pre-accelerator for underrepresented founders, designed to help them fundraise more successfully.
- Newlab: A singular community of experts and innovators applying transformative technology to solve the world's biggest challenges. Newlab is dedicated to supporting underrepresented climate and urban tech founders in NYC through the Founder Fellowship. Selected Fellows will receive full membership access to Newlab's co-working and prototyping space, in addition to mentorship and curated programming.
- Visible Hands: The most trusted platform for early-stage, overlooked founders. VH is on a mission to holistically support underrepresented founders in building high-growth startups. Through their programs, networks, and fund, they aim to manufacture privilege and invest in the resources necessary for underrepresented founders to win.
Fellow teams also have access to perks from NYCEDC’s startup ecosystem partners, including:
- Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation, which matches qualified social entrepreneurs with skilled Lex Mundi attorneys for free or low-cost transactional legal support to help grow their organizations and ultimately scale impact.
The fellowship offered Conan MedTech great networking opportunities and introductions to some investors through the Chloe network.
Each Fellow team can consist of up to two founders of a tech or tech-enabled startup company, with at least one founder residing within the five boroughs of New York City. Companies can participate in up to one Fellowship cohort at a time, and may not participate in another accelerator program between March-June 2024.
NYCEDC’s objective in creating the Venture Access Founder Fellowship is to eliminate barriers to entry into the venture-backed community and to build a more inclusive tech ecosystem in NYC. To this end, NYCEDC strongly encourages Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and women founders to apply to the program.