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PR- 494-10
December 6, 2010


Annual Fellowship Will Connect Emerging Business Leaders from Around the World with Established Business Leaders to Help them Scale Their Businesses in New York City

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert K. Steel, New York City Economic Development Corporation President Seth W. Pinsky and Fordham University President Joseph M. McShane today announced the NYC Venture Fellows program to assist later-stage startup entrepreneurs in scaling their businesses in New York City. The program will connect emerging business leaders from around the world with mentors from leading companies, increasing collaboration among startup and established businesses and encouraging national and international startups to locate and grow their businesses in New York City. The program, a joint-effort between New York City Economic Development Corporation and Fordham University, will be held annually. The 23 Fellows of the inaugural class come from nine countries and represent a diverse cross-section of new enterprises in areas such as new media, e-commerce, information technology, education and healthcare. Deputy Mayor Steel, Economic Development Corporation President Pinsky and Fordham University President McShane launched the program today at a kickoff event on Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus.

“No matter the buzz or early accolades, the transition from promising young startup business to successful leading company can be extremely difficult. We want to make it easier for entrepreneurs to succeed, and when they do, we want them to succeed in New York City,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “The NYC Venture Fellows program will capitalize on the willingness of accomplished business leaders to help the next generation of entrepreneurs make it and to help New York City.”

“NYC Venture Fellows is the latest example of our efforts to support entrepreneurship and spur innovation in New York City,” said Deputy Mayor Steel. “Our job is to understand and address the needs of businesses of all sizes and at all stages in an effort to help them grow, create jobs and contribute to our economy, and the NYC Venture Fellows will help do that specifically for later-stage startup companies. Our deep thanks go to Fordham University and the mentors that are providing their time and expertise, and we wish this year’s Fellows and those to come in the future much luck and success.”

“The City is committed to helping companies at all stages of growth, from incubating new business ideas to assisting established companies as they transition to 21st Century business models,” said New York City Economic Development Corporation President Pinsky. “By providing talented young entrepreneurs with direct access to a network of recognized business leaders, NYC Venture Fellows aims to help these innovative enterprises scale up in the City, so that they can become growth drivers for our economy.”

“It goes without saying that it is an honor for Fordham to be chosen as the host institution for the program. The New York City Venture Fellows effort, like many great ideas, seemed obvious once it had been articulated,” said Fordham University President McShane. “As an educator, it is abundantly clear to me that entrepreneurs need mentors—especially in New York, where the learning curve is steep and the competition unrelenting. The program will not only benefit the venture fellows themselves, but will be the source of continuous revitalization for the city’s economy.”

The selective, year-long program provides NYC Venture Fellows with a team of mentors to assist them in achieving the next stage of growth for their company and personal careers and provide counsel on issues specific to each fellow’s business. The program provides additional support to 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.

“I’m delighted and honored to be a NYC Venture Fellows mentor,” said The Huffington Post CEO Eric Hippeau. “As a proud New Yorker with an avid interest in seeing the city’s economy continue to broaden and deepen -- and as someone who knows first-hand the pivotal role that venture capital can play in promoting new businesses -- I think this innovative program is a terrific way to leverage all the city has to offer these impressive entrepreneurs.  They are the ones who will be helping to drive the city's economy in the decades to come.”

“New York City is a highly competitive and difficult business environment for emerging entrepreneurs to navigate, unless they have a seasoned guide,” said Partnership for New York City President and CEO Kathryn Wylde. “The Venture Fellows program fulfills that need and promises to accelerate the growth of new companies and jobs in the five boroughs.”

“Fordham is proud to enter into this partnership with NYCEDC. Together, we will work to develop the entrepreneurial talent and business expertise of a new generation of leaders,” said Stephen Freedman, Ph.D., provost of Fordham University. “We are deeply grateful to the program mentors for their commitment and generosity of spirit, and envision the mentor-mentee relationship as an integrated learning community that engages and energizes the whole person.”

The inaugural NYC Venture Fellows are GKIDS Founder & CEO Eric Beckman; Conductor Co-founder Seth Besmertnik; Foursquare Co-founders Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai; Hunch Co-Founder Caterina Fake; Globals Inc. (India) Founder & CEO Suhas Gopinath; Rocking the Boat Founder Adam Green; amiando (Germany) Co-founder Felix Haas; Hudong (China) Founder, Chairman & CEO Pan Haidong; Etsy Founder & CEO Rob Kalin; SemantiNet (Israel) Co-founder Tal Keinan; Epuramat (Luxembourg) Co-founder Achim Kopmeier; Co-founder Todd Krizelman; Image Analysis Ltd. (UK) Founder Olga Kubassova; GEMS Founder Rachel Lloyd; Gilt Groupe Co-founder & President Alexis Maybank; ASIAM (China) Co-founder Carlos Moncayo; Innovid (Israel) Co-founder Zvika Netter; Ushahidi (South Africa/Kenya) Co-founder & Executive Director Ory Okolloh; GreenSoul Shoes Co-founder Alastair Onglingswan; Big Bad Boo Studios (Canada) Co-founder Shabnam Rezaei; SecondMarket Founder & CEO Barry Silbert; and Gilt Groupe Co-founder Alexandra Wilson.

These fellows were selected by a committee of leaders from the private and public sectors, chaired by FirstMark Capital CEO & Managing Director Lawrence Lenihan; Fordham University President Reverend Joseph M. McShane, S.J.; Metropolitan Museum of Art President Emily Rafferty; WPP Group CEO Sir Martin Sorrell; Union Square Ventures Managing Partner Fred Wilson; and NYCEDC Managing Director Steven Strauss (ex officio).

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. They include President & CEO Cella Irvine; Barclays Americas Chairman Archibald Cox, Jr.; Baroness Julia Neuberger, Member of the House of Lords (UK); Bertelsmann US Co-Chairman Richard Sarnoff; Draper Fisher Jurvetson Gotham Ventures Co-founder & Managing Director Danny Schultz; Foot Locker Chairman & CEO Ken Hicks; GE Asset Management President & CEO-Mutual Funds Michael Cosgrove; Greenhill SAVP Managing Director Steven Brotman; Greycroft Partners Managing Director Alan Patricof; Huffington Post CEO Eric Hippeau; IAC Chief Administrative Officer & SVP Jason Stewart; IBM Technology Strategy and Innovation Program Executive Lilian Wu; MTV President Stephen Friedman; Premiere Previews President & CEO Peter Price; NBC Universal Women's & Lifestyle Networks President Lauren Zalaznick; NYU-Poly President Jerry Hultin; Rockefeller Foundation COO Peter Madonia; SJF Ventures Managing Director Arrun Kapoor; Theory CEO Andrew Rosen; US District Court, Southern District of New York Judge Loretta Preska; and President & CEO Neal Shapiro.

NYC Venture Fellows is one of a series of City-sponsored programs launched by the Bloomberg Administration to support entrepreneurship and encourage start-up companies to locate and grow in New York City. The City has launched six business incubators, with additional locations expected to open in early 2011. In addition, the City has established the $22 million NYC Entrepreneurial Fund, a seed and early stage investment fund with FirstMark capital, to grow New York City-based technology startups; JumpStart and FastTrac training programs to help emerging entrepreneurs start new businesses, grow their businesses, or transition to new sectors; launched the NYC Next Idea global business plan competition; the NYC BigApps Competition and worked to eliminate the Unincorporated Business Tax, reducing the liability for partnerships and sole proprietors for more than 17,000 New York City-based small businesses.

As New York’s Jesuit University, Fordham offers an international curriculum with a strong emphasis on critical thinking and analytic skills. The University has four undergraduate colleges and six graduate and professional schools at residential campuses at Lincoln Center in Manhattan and Rose Hill in the Bronx, and its commuter campus in Westchester. Fordham also operates the Louis Calder Center Biological Field Station in Armonk, N.Y., and the London Centre at Heythrop College in the United Kingdom.


Stu Loeser / Andrew Brent   (212) 788-2958

David Lombino / Libby Langsdorf (NYCEDC)   (212) 312-3523

Robert Howe (Fordham)   (646) 228-4375

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