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Press Release

NYCEDC Launches Applications for Third Installation of Founder Fellowship Program

Oct 05 2023
Business people having a meeting in modern office.

The Program Address Inequities within the Startup Ecosystem by Supporting Tech Entrepreneurs from Historically Underrepresented Backgrounds

NYCEDC is Partnering with Four Operators to Serve Approximately 60 Diverse Founder Teams

The Founder Fellowship Has Served Over 160 Founders Across 108 Startups Since 2022

NEW YORK, NY—New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) today announced the launch of applications for the third installation of the Founder Fellowship, a program designed to address inequities in the tech ecosystem and empower New Yorkers to seize entrepreneurship opportunities in the industry. Supporting a diverse community of tech entrepreneurs across various industries and sectors, the Founder Fellow program provides entrepreneurs with access to networking, fundraising, mentorship, business development, and other opportunities necessary to build and scale their enterprises in New York City.

The Founder Fellowship builds on Mayor Adams’ “Rebuild, Renew, Reinvent: A Blueprint for New York City’s Economic Recovery,” which prioritizes helping Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) and immigrant entrepreneurs gain greater access to capital. NYC is ranked as the number two global tech ecosystem and employs over 300,000 people, having grown by over 30 percent in the last decade. However, nationally, startups led solely by women founders received about two percent of venture funding in 2021, while startups led by Black and Latinx founders generally receive less than three percent of total funding raised. The Founder Fellowship was designed to address this challenge and ensure entrepreneurs traditionally underrepresented among venture-backed startups can successfully build and grow their enterprises in NYC.

“The Founder Fellowship is shaping a more inclusive and equitable economy by providing diverse tech entrepreneurs with the support they need to scale their companies in New York City,” said NYCEDC President & CEO Andrew Kimball. “We are proud to continue this game-changing program with our exceptional partners to spark new economic growth and expand entrepreneurship opportunities for all New Yorkers with a focus on equity, inclusion and diversity.”

“I am excited to welcome the NYCEDC’s third cohort of the Founder Fellowship program. As the Chair of the Committee on Economic Development, I am thrilled to see another successful cohort as the work of this initiative continues to give community centered entrepreneurs the resources they need to pursue their innovative solutions to public issues across our City,” said Council Member Amanda Farías. “When looking at solving community issues, we look inward. I look forward to working alongside this new cohort of fellows to bolster our emerging life science and tech industries and support their innovative solutions to aid New Yorkers.”

NYCEDC is working with the following operator partners to host four unique Founder Fellowship cohorts in 2024 with a goal of serving approximately 60 diverse tech founder teams.

  • Chloe Capital, a seed-stage venture firm that invests in women-led innovation companies.
  • Company Ventures, a seed-stage venture firm that offers a zero-equity pre-accelerator for underrepresented founders.
  • Newlab, a community of experts and innovators applying transformative technology to solve the world's biggest challenges.
  • Visible Hands, a platform that holistically supports early-stage, underrepresented founders in building high-growth startups.

The program continues after the successes of the pilot cohort with Newlab in 2022 and the second cohort that launched in February 2023. The second cohort served over 150 entrepreneurs across 100 tech startups. Of the teams selected in 2023, 69 percent include at least one female founder and 80 percent are led by Black, Latinx, and/or Asian founders.

The Founder Fellowship provides a diverse community of tech entrepreneurs with opportunities to access capital and networks to help scale their companies in New York City. Some achievements from the 2023 cohort include:

  • CareCopilot, a curated marketplace of key services that families need when caring for elderly loved ones, was selected to patriciate in Google's Black Founders Accelerator.
  • Co:census, which uses AI and Software as a Service to help urban planners and developers be more civically engaged during city projects, was featured among Business Insider’s list of Black women that have raised over $1 million.
  • Dathic, an AI-driven analytics platform that connect CPGs with their superfans in the US Latino community, was selected to patriciate in PepsiCo's Greenhouse Accelerator.
  • itselectric, an electric vehicle curbside charging company, announced a strategic partnership with NYCEDC and Hyundai CRADLE to demonstrate curbside EV chargers specifically built for cities. Six chargers were deployed at Brooklyn Army Terminal (BAT) and the Brooklyn Navy Yard in Spring 2023, informing development of BAT’s activation to enable product development opportunities for growing tech companies.
  • Meili Technologies, which provides automatic in-vehicle medical emergency detection and interface with EMS to protect riders and make roads safer, received a grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation for their efforts make roads safer for all.
  • Numina, a plug-and-play solution to measure activity in streets and harness data to makes places safer, more efficient, and more enjoyable for people, was invited to the White House to speak at the 2023 Advanced Research Projects Agency for Infrastructure Summit. The company also had their data featured in Consumer Reports on the environmental impact of e-commerce warehouses on neighborhoods.
  • Relavo, a medical device company that is changing the way that kidney failure patients receive treatment, received an investment from Empire State Development’s Seed & Pre-Seed Matching Program.
  • Werewool, an early-stage biotech company, raised $3.7M in seed funding. Werewool also hosted two interns through the LifeSci NYC Internship Program, the City of New York's innovative, paid internship program to develop the next generation of local life sciences leaders.
  • During the 2023 program, Founder Fellow companies raised more than $12 million and their combined valuation increased by at least $112 million.
  • 15 Fellows met with the City of New York’s Chief Technology Officer Matt Fraser to discuss tech and innovation priorities for the city.

“The Founder Fellowship gives minority founders like me the opportunity to make our mark on the startup world - and empowers me to fulfill my company's mission of making every American into an effective advocate for justice,” said Founder of Layman, Ltd, Esosa Ohonb.

“Embarking on the journey of entrepreneurship is both thrilling and challenging. This program goes beyond the ordinary, offering a transformative tech immersion into the world of business creation in the greatest city in the world. The insights shared on market understanding have been invaluable in shaping SaveFruit's trajectory. Let's not forget the personalized touch – the Office Hours. The opportunity to connect one-on-one with mentors, the Newlab, NYCEDC, and Bank of America team, and fellow portfolio founders has provided tailored guidance that is shaping our journey in unprecedented ways,” said Sebastián Hernández Gutiérrez, CRO at SaveFruit.

“The Founder Fellowship has introduced me to a world of incredible, diverse, and female-forward business leaders forging an entrepreneurial path toward achieving the world’s climate goals. The opportunities and resources that the founder fellowship has provided have been instrumental to our growth over the past year - having access to the maker spaces in Newlab has enabled our team to expedite the building of vital pieces of equipment that have unlocked our ability to start engaging in our first pilot projects,” said Werewool Co-Founder Chui-lian lee.

“The Chloe Capital team is thrilled to continue our partnership with NYCEDC in building an inclusive innovation ecosystem and supporting underrepresented founders across New York City with access to capital and resources through the Founder Fellowship program,” said Elisa Miller-Out, Managing Partner, Chloe Capital.

“The venture capital ecosystem in NYC is strengthened through ongoing partnership with the City's leadership. At Company Ventures we are looking forward to meeting a new cohort of Founder Fellows, supporting the launch of early stage companies led by founders from historically underserved communities,” said Matt Harrigan, CEO, Company Ventures.

“Newlab is dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs from across New York City as they build and scale technologies that are essential to our fight against climate change. We are thrilled to continue our partnership with NYCEDC and Bank of America to launch a third cohort of the Founder Fellowship at our headquarters in Brooklyn, which will provide working space, educational resources, and network connections to empower the next generation of world-changing startup founders,” said Garrett Winther, Head of Startups, Newlab.

“New York City is a global capital for innovation and is home to one of the most diverse populations in the world. Last year's Founder Fellowship cohorts showed that when underrepresented entrepreneurs are given the networks and resources they need, they can build successful businesses. We are excited to partner with NYCEDC again to prove that inclusion drives innovation,” said Justin Kang, Co-Founder and General Partner, Visible Hands.

Founder Fellows with social impact solutions also receive transactional legal support from the Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation. In 2023, nine Fellows from the second cohort received pro-bono legal support from Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation.

The program is part of NYCEDC’s Venture Access NYC initiative to build a more inclusive and representative tech ecosystem for founders and funders in NYC.

Applications for the 2024 Founder Fellowship are now open, and the Fellowship will commence in March 2024. Learn more and apply here.

New York City Economic Development Corporation is a mission-driven, nonprofit organization that works for a vibrant, inclusive, and globally competitive economy for all New Yorkers. We take a comprehensive approach, through four main strategies: strengthen confidence in NYC as a great place to do business; grow innovative sectors with a focus on equity; build neighborhoods as places to live, learn, work, and play; and deliver sustainable infrastructure for communities and the city's future economy. To learn more about what we do, visit us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.