Once again, Philly’s tech ecosystem lured the largest group of fellows from the Venture For America program, a two-year work program for recent college grads.
In 2017, some 14 young folks from the New York-based nonprofit program — which offers training and a salaried entry-level position at companies in over a dozen U.S. cities — came to Philadelphia for the program. Per Keenan Corrigan, VFA’s Philly director, this year’s cohort almost doubled, by placing 26 college grads at 18 Philly companies like Guru, STRATIS and Perpay.
The group, which Corrigan says is the most diverse cohort to date, comes to Philly after completing a monthlong startup bootcamp. Held this year in Detroit for the first time, the 2018 VFA Fellows learned from entrepreneurs and industry experts like Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert, Backstage Capital founder Arlan Hamilton and Duo Securities CEO Dug Song.
“I hope the 2018 Fellows learn that the Philly startup community and city at large are welcoming,” said VFA’s Corrigan. “If they dive into their jobs, connect with the community, authentically network, and are willing to listen and learn, they can make this city their home well beyond the two years of their fellowship.”
For Center City software firm Guru, CEO Rick Nucci said, VFA fellows have been able to move into other roles at the company.
“Guru has been a hiring partner with VFA since they first came to Philly and we have not missed a year since,” Nucci said. “Many of our Fellows have already gotten promotions or moved into other roles within the company, showcasing that VFA is a sustainable program for us as we grow here at Guru.”
(Since 2013, VFA fellows have gone onto launch over 10 startups from Philly, though some have shuttered since.)
Companies like Jornaya, VitalTrax, Shift Capital, Heavywater, Red & Blue Ventures, Thrive Commerce, RoundTrip Slice Capital and LUXTECH are also taking on fellows this year.
To welcome the group to town, VFA’s hosting a meet and greet at Perpay’s Center City offices on Friday night.