Since 2013, cohorts of recent college graduates have come to Philadelphia through the Venture for America program, which matches entrepreneurship-minded grads with local high-growth startups.
The goal is to showcase the hands-on startup environment and encourage fellows to stick around and build their own enterprises in one of the 14 cities they may be matched with. In Philly, startups such as Stix, LeagueSide and OneClick.chat were founded by former fellows.
And while this year’s cohort will look different — they’ll begin their roles virtually at their companies — Philly has grown to become the largest VfA hub, as Alison Garber, senior director of community partnerships, told Technical.ly. This year, the Philly fellows will join the staffs of 21 local startups in industries like healthcare, fintech and real estate for a two-year period.
The companies hire for hard tech skills as well as softer skills; Garber said about 65% of fellows are going into roles like sales, business or marketing. Of the about 210 fellows in this year’s national program, 34 were placed in Philly.
“I think Philly’s reputation within the startup community really helps,” Garber said.
The city’s relatively stable industries allowed for a little more certainty and resiliency than other cities that see more of a focus on hospitality and travel, she said. And tech-enabled startups across the country were able to adapt well during the pandemic.
“The opportunities kept coming, which is a really good sign for the city,” Garber said. “It’s been a painful year, but if there’s going to be one little part of our city that’s thriving, thank god it’s the startups.”
In addition to 34 fellows, the VfA Philly team — which recently received $100,000 from the City of Philadelphia to advance tech diversity initiatives — will welcome Gulsun Cavusoglu as its community director, Garber said. She joins from Sponsors for Educational Opportunity and brings a depth of knowledge that will add value to VFA, Garber added.
Check out Philly’s fellows, who started in their positions at these startups last month:
Blue Highway Capital
- Alex Lefebvre, a 2020 graduate of Tulane University joined Blue Highway Capital as a project manager and “hometown fellow” — he’s from West Chester.
- Adriana Román, a 2020 graduate of Williams College and new customer success manager, joins CampusESP.
- Jane Klaus, a 2019 Ohio State University grad, joined the startup as a software engineer. Check out Klaus’ virtual training camp diaries here.
- Graham Vogt, a 2019 graduate of Saint Louis University, joined the legal tech startup as its customer success engineer, and is a member of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps.
- Lynn-Arielle Jean-Louis is a 2020 Stony Brook University grad and Exyn’s business development technical analyst.
Green Infrastructure Leadership Exchange
- Amelia Lord, a 2020 Georgia College and State University grad, is a two-term student government president and joins the Exchange as its operations coordinator.
- Leena Chen, a Bernard College 2020 graduate, joins JetSense as its growth marketing strategist.
- Meredith Polk, a 2020 William and Mary graduate, joins JetSpring as an education sales rep.
- Matt Yang, a future (2021) grad of the University of Connecticut who grew up in Cairo, Egypt, joins Jornaya as a product specialist.
- Tomi Idowu, a 2020 Emory University grad who attended the African Leadership Academy for two years, joins the sports startup as a campaign strategist.
One Lane Bridge
- Michelle Jarcho, a 2020 Cornell University grad and founding executive board member of Ballet and Books, joins the org as a customer trade analyst.
- Sadie Faith Anderson, a 2020 Virginia Tech grad and director of relations at Soma International, a nonprofit that supports rural learning centers in Tanzania, joins the startup as chief of staff.
- Natalie Feinstein, a 2020 Brown University grad, joins the startup as a business development manager.
- Taylor Lipsich, a 2020 Duke University graduate, joins as a project manager.
- Ari Savitski, a 2020 grad of Yeshiva University, joins as digital marketing manager.
- Sylvia Frank, a 2020 Amherst College graduate and National Science Foundation Mathematics Fellow, joins Perpay’s operations team.
- Joe Britton, a 2019 University of Minnesota-Twin Cities grad, joins Perpay’s operations team.
Red & Blue Ventures
- Tiffany Yau, a 2018 University of Pennsylvania undergraduate and 2019 graduate degree holder (plus, founder of Fulphil), joins the firm as a venture capital analyst.
- Mihir Shah, a 2020 UNC Chapel Hill grad, is joining the lending startup as a technical marketing analyst.
- Kira Barrett, a 2020 University of Maryland grad and Dow Jones News Fund fellow, is joining the startup as a marketing communications executive.
- Ruben Tang, a 2020 University of Houston grad is joining as a sales associate.
- Simon Sheintoch, a 2020 University of Michigan grad, joins the healthtech startup as an account manager.
- Ami Patel, a 2020 UNC Capel Hill grad, joins as a business and data operations analyst.
- Alex Leone, a 2018 Yale University graduate, who formerly worked at Away and as a New York City school teacher, is an account executive at the startup.
- Rafael Ziotto, a 2018 SUNY Genesco grad and cofouder of Volt Air Technologies, joins as an account executive.
- Rosella LeChirco, a 2020 Kalamazoo College graduate and her class’ commencement speaker, joins the fertility startup as a marketing and operations associate.
- Devonté Kavanaugh, a 2020 Brown University grad and musician, joins UpRoar.
- Kevin Bronander, a 2020 University of Scranton graduate and president of the Scranton men’s Rugby Club, joins VeryApt as its growth manager.
- Barret Rus, a 2020 University of Maryland grad, joins the tech startup as a customer success agent.
- Hung Tang, a 2019 University of Virginia graduate, joins Wodify on its customer success team.
- Mark Beach, a 2020 University of Notre Dame graduate, joins Wodify on its customer success team.
- Vanessa Medrano, a 2020 Duke University graduate, joins Wodify on its customer success team.
Zebra Startup Studio
- Vivek Pandit, a 2020 Brown graduate, joins Zebra as cofounder at New Co.
- Vanessa Barker, a 2020 University of Maryland graduate, joins Zebra as cofounder at New Co.
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