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Press Release

NYCEDC Unveils Diverse Cohort of 100 Entrepreneurs Selected for Second Installment of the Founder Fellowship

Feb 15 2023
Diverse Tech Ecosystem

The Fellowship Expands from Eight to One Hundred Thanks to a $1.5 Million Investment through Mayor Eric Adams’ Blueprint for Economic Recovery

The Program Address Inequalities within the Startup Ecosystem by Supporting Tech Entrepreneurs from Historically Underrepresented Backgrounds to Raise VC Investments

NEW YORK, NY—New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) today announced a cohort of 100 tech founder teams from across New York City to participate in the second installment of the Founder Fellowship program. 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. Of the teams selected for the 2023 Fellowship cohort, more than 69 percent include at least one female founder and approximately 80 percent are led by Black, Latinx, and/or Asian founders.

NYCEDC received more than 550 applications for the second installment of the Founder Fellowship. The program is designed to address inequities in the tech ecosystem and empower all New Yorkers to seize entrepreneurship opportunities in the industry. The Fellowship expanded from eight to one hundred founder teams thanks to a $1.5 million investment from the City of New York through Mayor Eric Adams’ Blueprint for Economic Recovery.

“This $1.5 million investment will support a diverse group of entrepreneurs and will expand the cohort to 100 teams—helping to create good-paying jobs for New Yorkers and create a more inclusive economic recovery for our city,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “At a time when unemployment is falling overall but on the rise among Black New Yorkers, we must create family-sustaining career opportunities accessible to all New Yorkers. Our administration has made building a more equitable economy a top priority since day one in office and the focus of our economic recovery blueprint, and this ‘Promises Made, Promises Kept’ moment will help us get there.”

“The tech sector is a powerful force driving New York City’s economy, and this administration is committed to bringing all parts of the sector together to better our city and diversify our tech workforce,” said Deputy Mayor for Economic and Workforce Development Maria Torres-Springer. “The Founder Fellowship advances our efforts to build a more inclusive tech ecosystem by providing access to capital and support to innovators from historically underrepresented backgrounds. I am thrilled to see this program expand to support even more entrepreneurs who will scale their projects to solve complex problems and benefit all New Yorkers.”

“The Founder Fellowship champions an equitable tech ecosystem and works to ensure that the industry reflects the diversity of New Yorkers throughout the five boroughs,” said NYCEDC President and CEO Andrew Kimball. “We are thrilled to build off the success of the inaugural Founder Fellowship cohort, working together with our partners to expand the program's reach this year to 100 tech entrepreneurs and provide them access to critical networks and resources needed to scale their companies in New York City.”

“I am thrilled that NYCEDC has selected the second cohort for the Founder Fellowship program. As the Chair of the Committee on Economic Development, I have worked closely with the NYCEDC on this fantastic initiative that continues to give community-forward entrepreneurs the resources they need for their innovative ideas and solutions to public issues. Thank you again to NYCEDC and congratulations to the second cohort of the Founder Fellowship! I look forward to working with this cohort to continue to bolster our emerging tech industry and cannot wait to see the creative solutions they come up with to help New Yorkers across all five of our boroughs,” said Council Member Amanda Farías.

NYCEDC selected the following operator partners to host five unique Founder Fellowship cohorts in 2023. Each program operator is providing unique value and offerings to the startups participating in their respective cohorts.

  • 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. 
  • Tech Incubator at Queens College, a startup incubator where underserved and underrepresented entrepreneurs can thrive.           
  • Visible Hands, a platform that holistically supports early-stage, underrepresented founders in building high-growth startups. 

Lateesha Thomas is the co-founder of Onramp, a workforce development platform helping companies build and scale engineering apprenticeships to create alternative pathways into tech careers for candidates.

"As a Brooklynite, I'm incredibly honored to be in the NYCEDC and Chloe Capital Founder Fellowship and get the opportunity to explore how our company, Onramp, can scale its efforts to help more New York jobseekers gain new skills and land in amazing tech and data careers. We founded Onramp because we wanted to help our corporate partners create more meaningful employment opportunities and increased economic mobility for underrepresented candidates, and we're excited to work with NYCEDC and Chloe Capital to expand on that vision,” said Lateesha Thomas, Co-Founder and CEO of Onramp.

Daryl Holman Jr. founded Revival, a digital platform helping borrowers eliminate their debt at rates typically only offered to debt collectors.

“Frustrated with my growing student loan balance, I decided to launch Revival to help others struggling to put their debt behind them. Through the Founder Fellowship, I'm excited to work with Newlab and NYCEDC to expand these services to help New Yorkers with life after debt and solve this challenging problem that many across the country face,” said Daryl Holman Jr., Founder of Revival.

Going from knowing nothing about the stock market to working as a trader on Wall Street, Brittany Wright created Endex to provide the millions of investors seeking to leverage peer insights and social media with a platform to do so in a convenient, actionable, and safe manner.

“Having launched Endex during the height of the pandemic and primarily working virtually throughout, I’m excited to connect with, work alongside, learn from, and share with an incredible group of other NYC-based founders who are at a similar stage in their startup journey. Equally as exciting is the chance to work with NYEDC and the Company Ventures team and subject matter experts they’ve convened. I’m confident that, upon our completion of the fellowship, I’ll be more knowledgeable, better networked and will be another step closer to scaling Endex into one of NYC’s most prominent startups,” said Brittany Wright, Founder of Endex.

Victor Oribamise and Ayomide Louis are highly skilled and motivated individuals with a passion for utilizing cutting-edge technology to drive innovation in the aerospace and defense industries. Their B2B platform leverages advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence to tackle a $50+ billion problem in aviation by improving operational efficiencies.

“This opportunity to work with and learn from some of the best minds in the industry will be invaluable in helping me take Kquika, Inc to the next level,” said Victor Oribamise, Co-Founder of Kquika, Inc. “I am eager to contribute my ideas and work alongside my fellow founders to create innovative solutions that will have a lasting impact on the great state of New York, the United States and the world at large. I am confident that the resources and support provided through this program will enable me to take Kquika, Inc to the next level.”

“Chloe Capital is thrilled to announce our cohort of diverse founders dedicated to delivering innovative solutions in their respective categories. With so much interest from such a talented group of applicants, it was challenging to narrow down our selections. Now that we have assembled this incredible group of fellows, we can’t wait to work with each founder to deliver an immersive and meaningful experience for all, our team included," said Chloe Capital Partner and Chief Experience Officer, Myneco Ramirez.

“In a tight market, venture firms can risk stagnation and easily resort to pattern matching. But in reality, market downturns can bring positive disruption, especially when VCs identify and support founders who are building something truly new and visionary,” said Lindsay Siegel, Head of Impact at Company Ventures. “The Founder Fellowship reflects the real opportunity we see in catalyzing the success of historically overlooked founders while reinforcing New York City’s commitment to building a more equitable and inclusive future.”

“Addressing the world’s toughest challenges requires more entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds and wider perspectives, many of which are not commonly found in today’s startup communities. Newlab fosters the unique communities that enable critical technology in critical areas to get to market faster. The 28 companies selected to this year’s Founder Fellowship will be a meaningful addition to our Brooklyn community and benefit from Newlab’s resources, networks and infrastructure to build faster and stronger companies,” said Head of Membership at Newlab, Garrett Winther.

“We are honored to join forces with NYCEDC and support the next generation of diverse founders. We aim to break down barriers and level the playing field for underrepresented founders across tech-enabled sectors. The Founder Fellowship Program at TIQC, in collaboration with NYCEDC, will provide a comprehensive suite of resources, mentorship, and networking opportunities to help these founders turn their dreams into successful ventures. Our goal is to create an inclusive ecosystem where all entrepreneurs have equal access to opportunities and support to bring their unique perspectives and solutions to market,” said Ying Zhou, Executive Director of Tech Incubator at Queens College.

"New York City is home to some of the most creative individuals out there but so many - people of color and women - lack the networks and resources to start and scale their companies. We know this to be true with our dozens of investments in founders who call NYC home. We are proud to partner with NYCEDC to launch VHNYC to help solve this problem and create the next wave of impactful companies that will shape society," said Justin Kang, Visible Hands Co-Founder and General Partner.

“WeWork is honored to support NYCEDC’s Founder Fellowship program and help empower its diverse community of entrepreneurs in bringing new ideas to our city,” said Lauren Fritts, Chief Corporate Affairs and Marketing Officer at WeWork. “As a company founded in New York City, WeWork is proud to champion tech companies in all stages of their growth and provide access to spaces that foster new connections and innovation."

Founder Fellows also receive free or low-cost tools and resources from NYCEDC’s startup ecosystem partners including a year-long free WeWork All Access Basic membership for alumni and transactional legal support from the Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation.

The Founder Fellowship is part of NYCEDC’s Venture Access NYC initiative to bring together investors, tech entrepreneurs, and industry leaders to build a more inclusive tech startup ecosystem in New York City.

New York City is ranked as the number two global tech ecosystem and is home to over 25,000 tech enabled startups. The tech ecosystem employs over 300,000 people, having grown by over 30% 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. To address this challenge, NYCEDC designed the Founder Fellowship to ensure entrepreneurs traditionally underrepresented among venture-backed startups can successfully build and grow their enterprises in NYC.

About NYCEDC    
New York City Economic Development Corporation is a mission-driven, nonprofit organization that creates shared prosperity across New York City by strengthening neighborhoods and creating good jobs. We work with and for communities to bring emerging industries to New York City; develop spaces and facilities for businesses; empower New Yorkers through training and skill-building; and invest in sustainable and innovative projects that make the city a great place to live and work. To learn more about what we do, visit us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.