Rapper Nas invests in Brooklyn EBT startup - Technical.ly Brooklyn

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May 9, 2017 12:57 pm

Rapper Nas invests in Brooklyn EBT startup

Nasir Jones joins Kevin Durant and Andreessen Horowitz as investors in Propel.

Jimmy Chen, cofounder of Propel, at the Robin Hood Foundation's Unplugged talk.

(Photo courtesy of Robin Hood Foundation)

New York rap legend Nas announced he’s part of a $4 million seed round in Brooklyn-based food stamp startup Propel, which makes the app Fresh EBT.

Nas, whose government name is Nasir Jones, invests both personally and through his venture fund, QueensBridge Venture Partners. He joins Kevin Durant, Andreessen Horowitz and the Omidyar Network as investors in Propel. We covered the funding round last month when it was announced; Nas was a latecomer.

Propel comes out of the civic-tech incubator Blue Ridge Labs, a part of the Robin Hood Foundation, located in Cobble Hill. Its app, Fresh EBT, is for checking and managing SNAP benefits by phone. Propel’s founder, Jimmy Chen has worked at LinkedIn, and most recently was a product manager at Facebook. We at Technical.ly Brooklyn ranked Propel No. 8 in our 2017 top startups list.

Nas’s QueensBridge Venture Partners has made more than 40 startup investments since 2011, including investing in two rounds of funding for Brooklyn-based Genius. He precedes his one-time rap nemesis in the venture world. In March, Jay-Z announced he would be launching a venture capital fund a startup platform called Arrive.

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QueensBridge Venture Partners takes its name from the Queensbridge projects, where Nas grew up. The famously violent Queensbridge Houses is the largest housing project in North America, with 96 buildings covering six city blocks. It’s located in Long Island City, Queens. But times, like Nas, have changed. Long Island City is experiencing among the highest levels of development of any neighborhood in America and is now home to two Michelin-starred restaurants and the Queensbridge Houses has not had one shooting in a full year.

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Tyler Woods

Tyler Woods is the lead reporter for Technical.ly Brooklyn. He has previously worked in television and as a small town print reporter. He’ll answer if you email him.

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