The City Fellowship at Company Ventures: A Look Back on Our Inaugural Cohort
Last November, we announced the launch of the City Fellowship in cooperation with the New York City Economic Development Corporation. We created the City Fellowship to support impact-oriented entrepreneurs who are building innovative tech-enabled nonprofits, small businesses and startups serving New York City and its neighborhoods, with a focus on those working on solutions related to economic equity or climate action. In its inaugural year, Amazon signed on as a founding partner in this program.
We were honored to build the first iteration alongside 16 entrepreneurs from 14 organizations. The extraordinary entrepreneurs from historically underrepresented backgrounds whose work focuses on enabling a better future for our city in our inaugural cohort ranged from those finding solutions for childcare and job training to sustainability efforts for historically marginalized NYC communities.
Nine months later, our first cohort of the City Fellowship is coming to an end — but our first cohort has given us plenty to celebrate. Here are just a few highlights:
- Noelle Acosta (founder of Noula Health) and Leslie Borrell (founder of Carefully) were accepted into the Google for Startups Latino Founders Fund. The $5 million Google for Startups Latino Founders Fund provides cash awards — without giving up equity in return — as well as Google Cloud credits and hands-on support to help Latino entrepreneurs build and grow their businesses.
- Anthony Edwards (founder of EatOkra) was accepted into the Google for Startups Black Founders Fund. The Google for Startups Black Founders Fund provides non-dilutive cash awards to Black-led startups that have participated in Google programming or have been nominated by our partner community or a previous recipient. Selected founders receive $100,000 in capital along with Google Cloud credits and hands-on support to help grow their organization.
- Josue De Paz (founder of First Tech Fund) was accepted into the Obama Foundation Scholars program at Columbia University. The Obama Foundation Scholars program gives rising leaders who are already making a difference in their communities the opportunity to take their work to the next level through an immersive curriculum that brings together academic, skills-based, and hands-on learning.
- Daquan Oliver (founder of WeThrive Hub) was accepted into the Visible Hands 2022 Flagship Accelerator. The Visionaries Accelerator is a virtual-first program that annually supports overlooked talent in building technology startups. Through this 14-week program, founders receive personalized engagement plans, expert-led programming, and a supportive community of diverse founders at similar stages. Each founder receives initial investments of $25,000 at the start of the accelerator and will have a chance at earning additional investments of up to $150,000 from the Visible Hands team as they progress.
- Henry Obispo (founder of ReBORN FARMS) won a prestigious award from the Basque Culinary Center. Obispo delivered a winning pitch to represent the United States and participate in the second iteration of the Basque Culinary Center’s “Culinary Action! On the Road,” an international entrepreneurship program for food tech startups. Winning startups are awarded a month-long residency at the LABe-Digital Gastronomy Lab startup incubator in Donostia-San Sebastian, Spain.
- Karen Schoellkoph (founder of Leap Fund) was one of the five innovators selected for the 2022 Reconstruct Challenge. This challenge sought innovators who are working to solve barriers to employment. The five winners each receive $100,000 from Access Ventures to implement their solutions in the Louisville and Southern Indiana region over the next 12–18 months.
The City Fellowship offers fellows access to our ecosystem and the ability to build and develop connections to venture, government, corporate, and technological resources to achieve the next milestones in their journey. Key elements of the City Fellowship include engagement with our North Star Program, which focuses on values-based leadership, bi-monthly check-ins with the Company Ventures team, social and networking events with our community, and participation in our workforce development program with The City University of New York.
Our partnership with CUNY and Blackstone Charitable Foundation enabled us to run our annual summer internship program, which placed 35 interns with companies in the Company Ventures community, including the City Fellowship. 41% of the interns continued on with full-time, part-time, or contract work after the program ended in early August. 58% of those continuations were for companies participating in the City Fellowship. It became prevalent that many students were keen on companies creating impact, especially for New York City. Leap Fund’s intern Ashley Febus wrote a blog post outlining her experience. “Leap Fund allowed me to experience multiple facets of a career I was interested in exploring post-graduation: non-profit start-up life, operations, and sales,” she wrote. I learned that I love the start-up mentality, especially the fast pace and wide breadth of projects to work on, and sales is an exciting field for a budding entrepreneur like myself.”
Our program also includes monthly Brain Trusts, which break down the cohort into smaller groups to foster stronger connections based on their company focus or personal expertise. Fellows are also given the option to attend office hours and tactical workshops with Company Ventures partners, which include JP Morgan, Silicon Valley Bank, and Amazon Web Services.
The creation and sustained mission of the City Fellowship stems from our belief that the expertise embedded and honed in the venture community can — and should — be made available to a broader audience than just the entrepreneurs who typically get access to this support. The City Fellowship leverages our firm’s expertise, connectivity and other resources to support the goals of each fellow.
We’re opening up applications for the second annual cohort of the City Fellowship at Company Ventures. Applications are due 11/30. Learn more and apply here, or visit NYCEDC’s website for more information about the program.